When it came to the performance of Cubs prospect Javier Baez, I had just recently begun to lock up all the sharp objects in my house .
I tried to write off any anxiety over the young phenom's struggles, telling myself it's just the natural process. That was until Baseball Propectus Jason Parks gave us a quite sobering take on one of his favorite prospects.
It was as if he didn't love Javy anymore. Sob.
After a dominating run across two levels in 2013, Baez was a darling of the offseason prospect hype machine, and when he arrived in camp this spring and continued the onslaught I agreed to name all offspring I might create in the future after him. But 2014 hasn’t gone as planned for the 21-year-old, and we are nearing the point in the season where the sample size is significant enough to validate the concerns about his offensive struggles
What followed that post was nothing short of massive panic over possible vision problems, extreme day/night splits, and overall freaking out over Baez's approach and floor, in which the dreaded "AAAA player" phrase was invoked.
Deep breathing techniques, and back to center. We all knew this would happen. Baez would get tripped up by crafty offspead stuff he hasn't seen before on a regular basis. Pitchers would know how to set up the ultra aggressive swinger.
Please make it stop. When would he turn the corner?
Now, says Jaron Madison, the Cubs director of player development. At least that's what he told Mark Gonzalez.
"He's going to be around the corner now," Madison said Thursday at Petco Park before the Cubs started a four-game series against the Padres. "His defense is good, he's starting to lock in at the plate and he's getting his walks. He's starting to buy in to what he has to do as a hitter. And it's all going to click pretty soon.''
Baez extended his hitting streak at Triple-A Iowa to seven games Thursday night with a single in his first at-bat at Round Rock. He finished 4-for-5, including a solo home run, his sixth.
"He has made some adjustments to his approach," said Madison, adding that several minor league instructors have worked with Baez recently. "He's just understanding how they're going to pitch him, and it's just a maturity process for him because he's young (21).
Ok, thanks, but that guy works for the Cubs. Let me check in again with the guy who made me hide my cutlery. Parks himself.
"Baez will be fine," Parks told me.
"Has a lot of approach issues to work out. Likely to be Sosa type over Cabrera type. Big power but inconsistent contact. Baez is going to take a lot a time, even when he starts to figure out AAA---which will happen. MLB arms will punish him for a while".
"Baez tries to hit everything," Parks continued. "He doesn't have his spot locked in yet. Very similar to a young Sosa. He just swings it".
"But once he learns how to avoid swinging at pitches in his problem areas and focuses on swinging when he gets 'his pitch,' he will take off."
Ok, even the Sosa-like reference, I'll take it. The Cubs need someone to crank up the Michael Jackson in the clubhouse and proclaim they are "the man." I wasn't pinning all my hopes on this particular prospect to save franchise right away. That would be foolish.
Those hopes are pinned on the kid with the blue eyes and the bright smile.
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Filed under: Minor League News