With the Chicago Cubs surging toward the playoffs in part due to the play of four rookies, Third Baseman Kris Bryant, Shortstop Addison Russell and Outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler, it’s easy to forget that there’s more talent in the high minors that may help the stretch drive.
Infielder Javier Baez, a top 10 prospect by nearly all judging, spent two months in the big leagues last season and he looked well, raw. He hit a home run in his first game, and in his first home game, but otherwise, he struck out a lot as in A LOT. 95K’s in 229 plate appearances, or 43.3% of the time. It often seemed as if he was swinging at balls that were closer to the On Deck Circle than the plate.
The saving grace was that Baez was only 21 at the time, young for a major leaguer. He has spent 2015 back in AAA ball, and it’s been an up and down year. He missed the first few weeks of the season due to a death in the family, Then upon his return he broke a bone in his hand and missed more time. But looky here, his last 10 games Baez has amassed 45 plate appearances and only nine strikeouts, and this plate discipline is trending. He hasn’t struck out in any of last three games. During this time he’s hitting .462, yes, I said .462, 19 hits in 42 at bats, two dingers, three walks, three stolen bases, and yes, only nine strikeouts. The nice thing is that it rings true to his season. In 63 games his slash line is an impressive .315/.383/.542 in 283 plate appearances he has struck out only 70 times or 24.7% of the time. Just for comparison, last season he struck out 30% of the time in AAA.
I think he’s getting this plate discipline thing figured out.
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has said that they’ll bring Baez up only case of urgent need. With the team winning so much, there may not be an urgent need, but a middle infielder with .925 OPS and a rapidly declining strike out rate might create his own urgency.