You’re probably not following stats too closely during spring training because, well, why would you?
Even Kris Bryant’s home run binge isn’t particularly meaningful in the long run.
But, still, it would be nice to see Cubs prospect Javier Baez improving on last year’s struggles. He hit .169 last year and struck out at an almost comically bad rate — 95 times in 213 at-bats.
In nine spring games Baez is hitting .115 (3 for 26) with no walks and seven strikeouts.
The stats, though, are less important than the scouting report offered Wednesday by ESPN’s Keith Law.
Top Cubs prospects Kris Bryant (sore shoulder) and Jorge Soler didn’t play, so the biggest name on the field to start the game was Javier Baez, whose approach was … exactly what it was at the end of last season. To pick just one example, his at bat against Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan went as scripted: He swung way out in front of an 0-0 changeup, then got the same pitch in the same location and swung way out in front of it again, then at least got the count to 2-2 before weakly tapping to second base on yet another changeup away. Earlier in the game, he pulled a ball foul but for home run distance, and everyone in the stadium knew he’d get an off-speed pitch away after that — everyone but Baez, who swung and missed. Baez also later ended up getting caught stealing at third base on a 3-0 count, although that could have been called from the bench. It’s the lack of any adjustment in the approach that bothers me; pitchers can get him out in predictable fashion, and he shows no recognition of the book that’s out on him.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections peg Baez for 434 plate appearances with a .224 batting average, 25 homers and a .699 OPS in 2015.
The Cubs don’t want to send Baez down and further drain his confidence, but he can’t keep playing like this if the Cubs have their eyes set on an NL Central crown.
Law also offered a report on Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber, which you can read here.