Around this time last year the Cubs fan base was extremely low on Jorge Soler, what happened by the end of the season? Now Cubs fans believe that Jorge Soler is the Cubs RF/LF option for the next decade, how quickly an opinion of a player can change. This years prime example is Javier Baez who has been the second coming, at least until he struggled in the Majors last season, and OMG the strikeouts! I caution you, don’t underestimate Javier Baez.
We here at the blog have followed Baez closely through his minor league career, as I’m sure all of you have, and the one thing that has been a constant besides the strikeouts is that Baez struggles when he reaches a new level. I don’t mean scuffle, I mean full-blown struggle, as if he has forgotten how to hit a baseball. The other constant is Baez overcomes, and reaches cult status with his video game numbers once he figures it out, and I expect something similar this year. The whole point of Baez being called up last season was to experience major league pitching during a season that really didn’t mean much, why you ask? Because the organization wants those video game numbers to be on display once he figures it out during a season where the Cubs can actually make some noise, kind of like 2015, or 2016.
In the video above new Cubs skipper Joe Maddon talks about the type of overall player that Baez is, and can be. He mentions that his baseball acumen is very high, and that he knows how to run the bases, plays solid defense, these are the things that are important to Maddon, but he does also mention that Baez is here to hit. The main thing that Maddon stresses is that Baez is young, and that fans need to understand that, and be patient with his development. Maddon also says that it is up to him and the coaching staff to help Baez with the development, better at bats, more patient approach, when to shorten up the swing, etc.
Baez is going to strikeout, but it’s about when those strikeouts come and when Javier can make the adjustment to help the team in the given situation. I think the bottom line is that Baez tried to do way too much when he came up last year, just like all the times he was promoted to a new level, it’s only natural. The other thing that is natural is the power that Baez displays, it rivals that of fellow prospect Kris Bryant, it’s scary. Another thing that I really like about Baez is his desire to want the spotlight, to want to be the guy when it matters most, to prove people wrong or to just impress people. A solid off-season of winter ball in Puerto Rico, and a strict workout program that saw Baez lose twenty-five pounds have him primed to be in a position to not only be in the opening day lineup but to impress everyone, and I think he will.