No doubt that everyone had eyes for a couple of players during the Cubs spring training campaign.
Mar 7, 2013; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez (70) doubles during the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
For obvious reason, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Albert Almora were all under a microscope during their short stints in spring training, but we also had eyes onChristian Villanueva and Daniel Vogelbach.
Regardless of who you were watching, Javier Baez has emerged as a bit of superstar in the making.
Scouting reports always indicated that Baez has some insane potential and it’s easy to subscribe to everything their saying. These are reputable sources who literally watch young ball players do their thing for a living, which checks them out in my books. Baez decided to take those scouting reports and make them feel like conservative observations.
He was quietly having a mediocre spring campaign, then the kid goes yard in 4/5 ABs including 3 straight up 1 pitch jacks in a row. Better yet, he called his 2-run walkoff homer vs the Japanese national team a few days ago.
That’s about as big time as it gets. Baseball is a streaky game but that is some big time flexing. For the record, he did ground out as the final out in a loss vs Oakland today and did not hit a single home run. Oh well.
Dale Sveum provides a little bit of insight on Baez’s performance:
"The last week, it seemed like he turned into a different kid, the way he went about things, his at-bats. I think that inner cockiness will always be something that’s a huge asset for any good player. People who play in the big leagues, there’s always an edge to them, one way or the other. He’s got that edge. He wants to be that guy. I think he got comfortable as big league camp went on in the environment and with the guys. We all know it’s there"
Neat. I wonder what Baez thinks of the situation. He had this to say:
"I’m seeing the ball pretty good and hitting the ball hard. I just like the first fastball I see. Sometimes I miss it, sometimes I hit it.”"
Sounds like the kid is keeping it simple, which is probably the best thing he can do at this point.
His success comes from one very simple element of his game: completely insane bat speed. Picture this, you’re standing at the side of the highway throwing eggs at cars because you’re a total degenerate. You see a car that is travelling 10 MpH and lob an egg at it. The likelyhood is that the egg probably just hits the windshield and rolls off intact. Same situation, but the next car is traveling 100 MpH – this egg is going to be absolutely scrambled on contact.
Baez’s bat acts like the vehicle in this situation. If he swings at anything and gets a piece of it, it’s going to leave the park. He’s been taking fastballs and even sliders way deep and doesn’t seem to be slowing down on his trigger happy ways. Nothing wrong with letting the kid swing as his bat speed is THAT fast.
Despite this performance, he wont be making the big league squad anytime soon. Both he and Soler should be assigned to High A Daytona after being cut today, which is exactly where you want them. Young players need to play every day and get comfortable with coming up through the system all while facing the normal adversity of being on a baseball team.
I wouldn’t hold your breath if you’re looking to see Baez get a September call up, either. Not going to happen. It’s just not time yet. He might reach AA by the end of this season… if he’s lucky.
Still, it’s hard not to get excited over his performance. The last week was nothing but a small flicker of what kind of monster Baez will eventually develop in to.
Good times lay ahead.