Around this time last year the talent evaluators across the internet were espousing the high ceiling/low floor combination that was present in Javier Baez.
“The raw talent could make him one of the best prospects in the minors, as he has the type of loud tools that impact games. But his overall approach is loose and hyperactive, and will need to find a balance between intensity and field intelligence to move forward.”
Man things changed in a hurry. Baez perhaps has a claim to being the number one prospect in all of baseball. When I evaluate prospects in my mind’s eye I prefer guys who are “safer” bets than the guys who have a profile like Baez. Last year I too would have ranked Almora over Baez last year. But even now I cannot deny The Unicorn.
Perhaps his profile is merely the stuff of dreams and our natural inclination to attach hopes and dreams to the things we cannot yet see in concrete terms will end up becoming just another instance in which the Baseball Gods saw fit to pull the wool over our eyes.
But I’m starting to believe, which is a dangerous thing.
There are the obvious caveats, a lot of people bring up Felix Pie and Corey Patterson as lazy comps to Javier Baez. I’ve seen this from fans on twitter, social media and I’ve heard it from mainstream media folk as well. I think that I know how the logical dots were connected and ergo how people arrive to equating Baez to Pie and Patterson, but I still think it’s a different context.
Both Pie and Patterson were highly touted prospects whose career paths took drastic turns for the worse almost as soon as they arrived at the Major League level. They were busts and there’s no disguising that. However, the tools present in both Pie and Patterson are different than what we have in Baez.
For now, Baez is a question mark to stick at shortstop, but there are enough voices out there that think he could stick at short or make a smooth transition to thirdbase that creates an interesting package. Whereas Pie and Patterson were do everything outfielders Baez is a power hitting shortstop (maybe) with 40 HR potential.
That’s loud. That’s different.
A lot of the things we’re now hearing on Baez are removing the “boom or bust” label. As Parks said, there’s still the inherent risk that comes with every prospect but what the Cubs have with their top prospect might be something we remember for a long time.
This time for good reasons.