Huge news on the minor league front in that Javier Baez has been promoted to AA Tennessee. I'd been suspecting as much since the day the Cubs basically gave up Ronald Torreyes for pool money. Here is what I said a couple of days ago,
Of course, what makes it even easier to absorb that loss is the presence of Javier Baez, who has made significant progress this season and is having an excellent season at Daytona. He may be ready for a promotion to AA and while Torreyes was a 2B and not technically blocking Baez, there was SS Arismendy Alcantara, whom we consider the Cubs 5th best prospect. Should we read anything into the fact that Alcantara has strictly played 2B since Torreyes was dealt. Could the Cubs be making room for Baez at Tennessee? The consensus has been that Alcantara would eventually move to 2B anyway and now that he is perhaps a year away from the big leagues, the Cubs are beginning that transition now. If that's the case, they weren't going to let a decent, but not great, prospect like Torreyes get in the way (of Baez).
I expect Arismendy Alcantara to move to 2B to accommodate Baez, though it's possible both players could move around a bit. As to who plays at SS at Daytona, I expect that to be either Tim Saunders or Wes Darvill. If it's Saunders and he moves in from CF, the D-Cubs might need someone to replace him too....hmmm. Any thoughts on a CF from Kane County who could possibly handle the Florida State League? But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's get back to the new Smokies shortstop...
Javier Baez was hitting .274/.338/.535 with 17 HRs and 12 SBs. Perhaps more importantly, he has changed his approach and has walked at a much higher rate recently -- 10.2% since June bringing him up to a career high of 6.2% for the year.
Moreover, Baez seemed to understand what he was supposed to do. We mentioned this piece from MiLB.com the other day.
On his approach:
"They are working with me to slow things down and not guess at the plate. I'm ready to hit the first good fastball, but I can't chase pitches out of the strike zone."
On his defense:
"I'm working on my footwork and making better throws. I like shortstop, but I'd play anywhere the Cubs want me."
On having the spotlight on him:
I don't think about it. I have to do my job, just like every player."
We saw this improvement coming back in May when we talked about how the approach was already changing -- but that sometimes results lag behind process. It's funny to think now that there was some concern at the time.
Ten days later, we read some similar thoughts from his manager Dave Keller,
“That’s a beautiful thing,” Keller said, “when you get up there and you have your balance and you swing at good pitches. That gives him a chance to get his ability out there.”
“He has plenty of power and plenty of bat speed and he’s been patient and he’s been getting good pitches to hit.
“He hasn’t been chasing pitches out of the strike zone and he’s been keeping himself under control. He’s taking nice, tension-free swings. When that happens, the ball jumps off his bat.”
This wasn't something that came out of the blue, Baez has been steadily improving throughout the year after a slow start.
Now we get to see him in Tennessee. If you haven't suscribed to MiLB.tv, maybe this is the time to do it. And I'm thinking a road trip to Tennessee is in the near future.