For as much fun as I've had in Arizona, I have to admit I would have been disappointed if I didn't see one thing before I left: A Javier Baez bomb.
Well, on my last game here for the year, Baez came through, launching a monster blast deep into LF. It easily cleared the wall between the 340 and 390 ft signs and fell just short of clearing the second fence that marks the back end of the berm, just left of the scoreboard.
(By the way, that's me going "woohoohoo!" in the background)
It was his only hit of the game, but the three run shot will be more than enough to send me home
Baez did hit the ball well all day despite going just 1-4. He also flied out deep to RF and hit a foul ball so hard that it nearly decapitated the 3B coach than crashed with a resounding thud against the seats down the LF line.
He also looked good in the field, though he did throw the ball away on his first chance. In Baez's defense, it was a tough play. He had to charge in and to his right then throw off balance and across his body. Unfortunately, the ball sailed over the 6'4" Aaron Westlake's head at first. Because of the difficulty of the play and also because the runner didn't advance, Baez was not charged with an error.
Baez did make all the routine plays and saved his best play for last. It was a bouncer between SS and 3B that got past the third baseman Jiovanni Mier. Baez fielded it deep in the hole and fired a rocket to easily beat the runner at first.
While it's become conventional wisdom that it will be Baez who changes positions when he gets to the majors, I'm not so sure yet. While Starlin Castro is more fluid and can match ( and maybe beat) him play for play, I really like Baez's instincts and heads up play at what is perhaps the most important defensive position on the field. I'm intrigued not only by Baez's physical gifts at SS, but also by his leadership potential there. It's easy to picture him being the captain of that infield. Jason McLeod's observations the other day back up that sentiment,
”When you watch him play defense and watch him on the bases, he plays like a veteran who has been in the Major Leagues for a long time and at a very young age. That was the most pleasant surprise for me, and it’s really fun to watch him on defense. It’s like he sees things before it happens.”
It's nice to have two good all-around SS who can hit well enough to move to another position. This is more the type of problem we hope to see in the Theo Epstein era.
Other Fall League Notes:
- I've been pleasantly surprised with Rubi Silva, particularly with his better-than-expected bat speed, athleticism, and defense. He was more of an afterthought for me when I came to see the games here, but I came away thinking that this guy can fill a role off the bench in the big leagues.
- Matt Szczur has been working on his swing and it looked to me like his hands looked a little quicker on his first single on Friday. Though it was just a single, the ball really jumped off his bat better than I had seen in any other at bat.
- I missed Tony Zych's scoreless inning on Saturday. I had plans to see "Seven Psycopaths" early that evening so we left an inning early. I do know he threw 96 in his first outing and got two of his outs via his slider -- which is something I was hoping to see. Hopefully that was the case again yesterday. By the way, I'd recommend "Seven Psychopaths" if you are into irony and dark humor-- but you also might enjoy it simply if you like Christopher Walken. I enjoyed it for all of those reasons.
- I'll have a new post with some pictures of both the Arizona Fall League and instructs. I'm not really a photog, nor do I have a great camera, but I hope it conveys the gist of the experience.
Filed under: Fall/Winter Baseball