So Starlin Castro is in a hurry to see Javy Baez called up?
That is a headline I probably wouldn't have expected to see a few months ago. At one point, the widespread speculation was that Baez would eventually overtake Castro at shortstop.
But with Baez playing exclusively at second as of late, and Castro having a bounce-back All Star campaign, Baez's path to Chicago currently leads to another position. Yet when you hear Cubs GM Jed Hoyer speak of Baez, like he did Sunday morning on WSCR, he is sure to remind everyone that he still thinks of Baez as a more than capable shortstop.
This gives Hoyer the option of dealing one of his top shortstop prospects, or possibly the incumbent one, for needed arms. With Addison Russell pushing his way towards Iowa, a wonderful glut is upon us.
Meanwhile, Castro believes Baez would benefit greatly from a September call-up, something that has been whispered to us as a real possibility. I'm sure Castro is ready for some talented company in the everyday lineup. Baez is certainly making his case to oblige Castro, as he hit his 22nd and 23rd home runs Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
"Maybe this year," Castro said of a possible promotion for Baez. "I don't know when, but he has to be here soon."
The Cubs have wanted to take their sweet, sweet time with their top prospects. Very much like the way of the Tampa Bay Rays, an organization that this front office is somewhat emulating with the current player-development-based plan.
Both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have publicly stated a desire for players like Baez to approach 500 plate appearances at the AAA level before gracing the big stage. In case you were wondering, Baez is getting very close to that magic number.
One thing FO always says is that they like hitters to get 500 PAs in AAA. Baez has 434 as of now. Lots of other factors involved though.
— John Arguello (@CubsDen) August 4, 2014
Close enough, you say? The Cubs brass just wants to ensure that when Baez arrives in Chicago, he is equipped to stay long term.
As for the aforementioned Castro, he never even set foot in a cornfield. He never saw Iowa or a single AAA at-bat. He made his somewhat hastily MLB debut straight out of AA on May 7, 2010, when he with a home run, triple and six RBIs.
Castro told Mark Gonzalez he had pressed at the time to perform out of fear he could be sent back to the minors.
"You still don't know if they're going to send you down or whatever," Castro said. "There were a lot of scary moments. Thank God I never went back to the minors".
"I think those guys in the minor leagues, when they come here, they have the ability and talent to be here all their careers."
The reality with Baez is that he will very likely experience more struggles at some point once he hits Chicago; he already endured some major adjustments this season at AAA. Iowa Cubs play-by-play man Randy Wehofer has witnessed both the struggles and the progress and shared some observations with our Ryan Davis.
"Baez will be the first to admit that his numbers in April were a direct reflection of swinging at too many pitches that were out of the strike zone. Early in a triple-A season, he was facing pitchers almost every day that had big league experience and the ability to recognize that flaw and use it to their advantage. That is much less common at the lower levels," said Wehofer.
"His maximum-effort swing can also lead to troubles in maintaining consistency with his mechanics. Throughout this season, I have seen an improvement in his pitch recognition, but he will still strike out a fair amount of times. I also believe he has done a better job of moving his feet less to stay on balance with that ferocious swing of his," he said.
Many scouts still firmly believe Baez has the biggest star potential out of the Cubs prospects. However, with that high ceiling comes a lower floor.
The good news is most believe Baez has the skill set, mostly the lightening quick bat speed, to make those adjustments over time. Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks shared some of these thoughts with me back in May.
"Baez will be fine," Parks said.
"Has a lot of approach issues to work out. Likely to be a Sammy Sosa like type over Miguel 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," he said.
If it were up to his future double play partner in Castro, Baez would be taking off for Chicago soon.
Thanks for reading; if you enjoyed it, please share with others. And if you'd like to be updated on my future posts, and those from the rest of the Cubs Insider team, you can subscribe below.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
And be sure to like Cubs Insider on Facebook. You can also
Filed under: Uncategorized