Cubs have reason to be concerned about Baez
The Chicago Cubs have reason to be concerned about one of their Core Four prospects, infielder Javier Baez.
After Baez batted only .169 with 95 strikeouts during a 52-game big-league audition last year, many observers figured a return to his native Puerto Rico for winter ball would help Baez make the necessary adjustments at the plate — in particular, an improved two-strike approach.
That hasn’t happened.
Baez, 22, struck out 21 times in 43 at-bats for Santurce during the Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente regular season, and his performance has regressed further in the playoffs. Through two games of the Puerto Rican championship series, Baez is 0 for 9 with six strikeouts and has been dropped from second to seventh in the batting order. He also committed two throwing errors in Game 1 and a fielding error in Game 2.
The Cubs have been satisfied with Baez’s work ethic this offseason; if anything, he might be trying too hard. But the results simply have not followed. One observer noted that Baez’s two-strike approach remains unchanged from his free-swinging stint with the Cubs last year. And if he’s struggling to make contact against mostly Triple-A-caliber pitching in Puerto Rico, it’s difficult to imagine Baez would fare better in the majors less than three months from now.
Baez will report to spring training next month with a chance to win the Cubs’ everyday job at second base, but he will face competition from Tommy La Stella, who turns 26 this month, and the switch-hitting Arismendy Alcantara, 23.
Barring dramatic improvement, Baez could begin the regular season at Triple-A Iowa.