Javier Baez has been the talk of the Cubs’ organization since the day he was drafted.
Everyone knew he possessed all of the tools need to patrol the infield at Wrigley Field one day; it was just a question on how he would develop.
Since his call-up to the Smokies on July 6th, his progression has sped up from a batting standpoint. Smokies manager Buddy Bailey focused on Baez’s approach trying to cut down on the youngster’s strikeouts.
“You know he went from striking out a lot, maybe some at-bats seeing three or four pitches and swinging and getting himself out, whereas now he is earning the at-bat and making the pitcher earn the strike out or the out” Bailey said about the Cubs’ top prospect. “He’s been a lot more disciplined and the strike zone knowledge is a lot better.”
Being more disciplined at the dish can lead to more walks. And that’s exactly what the shortstop has done.
He has walked 17 times in 42 Southern League appearances, where as with Daytona, he only walked 21 times in 76 games.
Bailey has been around the game a long time, well over 20 years. He’s seen players like Ron Gant and Miguel Cabrera. Yet, he likes what he sees out of his current shortstop.
“I think his potential is there,” Bailey said. “What it comes down to with so many players that get labeled as prospects and are really gifted or are always the best one, when it meets the match, do they realize they have to put in the effort and make adjustments to stay amongst the best there. The big leagues are the best of the best.”
In regards to Baez, power is the top discussion. He’s third among all minor league players with 31 homers. He has knocked home 95 RBIs.
But the key for him will be simplifying his approach. Cutting down strikeouts and walking more often is vital; excelling in clutch situations will help Baez develop quicker.
During the Smokies’ most recent home stand, Baez came through in the clutch. He provided two walk-off hits, including a two-run home run Friday night against the Lookouts.
Even members of the Cubs’ organization in the Windy City have taken notice of Baez’s development.
After Baez’s walk-off homer, Cubs manager Dale Sveum was asked about the possibility of Baez being called up to the majors soon.
While he downplayed that possibility, he did praise Baez’s development with Tennessee.
“Even watching him now, it looks like he toned down a lot of his movement,” Sveum said of the Smokies star. “Hand movement and his leg lift is a lot more slow and calmer than it was in Spring Training and even earlier in the minor league videos that I watched. That’s what development and adjusting, that’s what you want to see.”
If Baez’s development continues with the Smokies, Sveum may get to see Baez play a lot sooner than expected.
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitterand like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Matthew Osborne is a beat writer for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow Matthew on Twitter here: @themindoftheoz