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smoke monsterJavier Baez has had a rough time at the plate this season (and three more strikeouts yesterday did not help his line any), but despite his 39 strikeouts and K% in excess of 30%, Baez is not having the roughest time in the Florida State League. He is in a pack of players fighting it out for second place on the “Most Strikeouts By A Hitter” list, but Milwaukee’s Nick Ramirez is running away with the top spot. His K totals (48) and K rate (36.9%) are well ahead of Baez… but so are his BB totals (10 vs 5 for Baez). The two are tied in home runs (at 5).

So how does this aggressive swinger rank in the Brewers farm system? He doesn’t. Not on any kind of top prospects list, anyway. And that effectively demonstrates why we should not rely on nothing but numbers when evaluating minor league talent. Baez is a potentially elite prospect and Ramirez just isn’t, but based purely on their offensive production this season I think a lot of people might flip a coin between them. The stats just do not tell the whole story, something that is often the case in the minors. Scouting reports, physical tools (whether old school or new school), and context all matter and all have to be considered. Numbers alone are better than nothing, but they can be deceptive.

And that point applies at the major league level as well, particularly for young players and small sample sizes. Once upon a time the Cubs had a young player who finished the month of April with the line of .203/.229/.304. Had he been a Cub today I think half the fan base would have been on Twitter and the various forums screaming for his head. As it turned out, his slow start not withstanding, he was actually pretty good.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa welcomed Matt Garza with a 6-1 win.
Tennessee – The Smokies had Monday off as they traveled back home from a rough stay in Mississippi.
Daytona – The Cubs stumbled on the road, dropping this game 6-2.
Kane County – The hits were there, but Kane County did not have the pitching in this one. They lost 11-8.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Matt Garza scattered four hits and three strikeouts across 3.1 innings, but he was outpitched by Chris Rusin. The lefty struck out two and allowed just three hits over five innings to wrap up the game.
  • [Iowa] Josh Vitters homered again, his second in as many games. Edwin Maysonet doubled and homered.
  • [Daytona] It definitely looks like Jorge Soler is back in form. He tripled (his first) and homered (his fourth) in this game. He has now reached base in seven straight games, and in that span he has homered twice, doubled twice, tripled once, walked four times, and stolen a base.
  • [Daytona] Frank Del Valle continues to get it done in relief. The lefty struck out three more while allowing a single hit in two innings of relief in this game. I am very curious to see what this guy can do as a closer or setup man higher up in the system.
  • [Kane County] Pin-Chieh Chen reached four times on two singles and two walks. He also scored twice and drove in two runs.
  • [Kane County] Dan Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario had the only two extra base hits for the Cougars, both doubles. Candelario also added two walks to his day (Vogelbach had one).
  • [Kane County] Other than Chen, the only multi-hit game belonged to Bijan Rademacher. The right fielder finished 3 for 5 with his third steal of the season. And then to top things off, he took the mound and pitched a scoreless ninth.

Other News

  • Now that the Cubs have brought up Ryan Sweeney, Brian Bogusevic has to feel his turn is next. All Bogusevic has done is hit .419/.509/.591 with 1 home run, 2 triples, 6 steals, 17 walks and just 16 strike outs. There are not a lot of flaws in his game so far this season. Whether or not he can do anything in the majors this season, he has nothing left to prove at Triple A.
  • http://Www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Baez will be a bust. Hate to say it!

    • BluBlud

      Absolutely not. Beaz will be a monster. Don’t get to concerned with his numbers. If we trade this guy, I’m sure we will all regret it later.

      • Cubbie Blues

        I’m sure you’re right if we trade him he will be a stud. Although if we keep him he will turn into a bust. I’d rather take the trade.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I strongly suspect he is the most tradeable (from the Cubs perspective) of their top tier of prospects.

          • Cubbie Blues

            When is Almora expected to come back?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              He played in extended Spring Training last week, and then hasn’t since. He’s still not behind schedule (he was expected back mid-May), necessarily, but it seems a fair guess that he had a setback.

              • Jp3

                Yeah that’s what I figured too. Why else play in a game a week ago then not since.

            • Boogens

              Also, any word on Paniagua yet? Is it fair to assume that it’s a write-off at this point? I was hoping that he would work out.

              • Kyle

                He’s absolutely not a write-off.

                Same story: The government is demanding a lot more paperwork for him to prove he is who he claims to be, and won’t let him into the country until they are satisfied. Given that he’s been caught before using fake documents, this may not be an easy hurdle to leap.

                He’ll still be able to pitch in the DSL. With pitchers, getting their work in is most of the battle, so I’m not too worried about this stunting his development or anything. It’s annoying, but once he gets here, he’ll be fine.

                • Boogens

                  Thanks, Kyle. Glad to hear that because I feel that he’s got a lot of upside.

          • Cubbie Blues

            His 4-8 weeks should be about up, yes?

            • Jp3

              Good question, he played a few days ago for the 1st time in an extended ST game and for some reason hasn’t played since that I can find. Hopefully he hasn’t suffered a set back.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        BluBud, you previously said Profar can’t hit for average and will strike out too much against big league pitching.

        Profar is only 3 months older than Baez and in AAA, and K’ing about half as often as Baez.

        How can you say that about Profar and not have the same concerns about Baez?

        • hansman1982

          BluBlud has a very interesting take on scouting most players. It seems that most of the time it’s completely backwards from the consensus.

          • BluBlud

            I agree Baez stikes out to much. I think his power potential is to high to give up on him now. I also think he’s pressing and trying to hit a HR everytime and swinging to hard. If he relaxes, his strikeout rate will drop. I think Profar is a great prospect, just not the best in baseball. I think because he has SS by his name, it’s elevating him higher then he should be. I think Baez will be a better player then Profar, but that’s my opinion. I don’t think Profar will be as good as say, Starlin Castro. I think he’ll struggle to even get close to castro. But I think Baez has the potential to be much better then castro.

            Once again, it’s all opinion. None us will know until they reach the majors and perform. Who knows, Almora could flame out and Andreoli could go on to be a multiple time all-star. Them just bees the breaks.

            • Cubbie Blues

              I don’t think anyone has ever said we need to give up on him. There are definitely concerns though.

              • hansman1982

                Ya, if we can use him instead of Almora or Soler in a trade for someone like Price, I wouldn’t be able to sign the paperwork fast enough.

                But, no sense in dumping him for Blake DeWitt.

                • BluBlud

                  I would much rather give up Almora in a trade for either, though I would happily give up both in a trade for both.

                  Baez has super star potential. Almora has good ball player potential. Now almora may have a better shot to reach his potential, but in this case, I would rather swing for the fences and go for the super star. We need a couple of those around these parts..

                  • Feeney

                    Almora has had 145 minor league PAs as an 18 year old. I wouldn’t want to trade him at this point. We have no idea how good he might be and neither do the teams that would be looking to acquire a prospect in a trade.

                  • hansman1982

                    I agree, which is why if we can get an actual superstar for Baez, we do it, remove the risk and keep Almora.

                    This way you get the best of what Baez could be, plus the liklihood that Almora becomes a good major leaguer.

                    • The Dude Abides

                      How many professional AB’s does Almora have and at what level? When do you project him to be in the majors?

                      Baez, you along with most on here were banging the all star level talent pretty loud all spring and last season.

                      All of these guys are prospects that’s all, there will be many more to come…

                    • hansman1982

                      He’s around 130 PA. The thing that really screws with the sample is his absurd, impossible, clearly this must be a sampling error, low BB rate and his 0% K-looking rate at Boise.

                      If he comes back this year, plays well and is playing to expectations next year and in 2015 and the Cubs are in contention and need a CF, maybe a mid-season callup then. Otherwise I’d say 2016. But I have no clue on this stuff.

      • hansman1982

        HAHAHA:

        “Don’t get to concerned with his numbers.”

        Um, he’s K’ing 30% of the time this year and walking 4% of the time.

        Either he is a giant mental case that is NOT listening to the Cubs coaching staff and just hacking away even though he can walk.

        Or, he cannot take a walk and strikes out at Brett Jackson rates. I guess it is entirely possible that he is exactly like Giancarlo Stanton.

        • hansman1982

          Wait, a Hendry player that can’t walk, K’s a lot, and has decent power?

          Sounds like Corey Patterson.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            To be fair, Baez has better than decent power. He doesn’t compare to Sano, but he (and Soler) can go toe to toe with most other prospects in that department. Power should never be a problem with him.

            • hansman1982

              No, I originally had down “crazy power” but that was a bit much for Patterson.

              Basically, Baez seems like a super-Hendry prospect. If ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING POSSIBLE in his development goes 110% perfectly, his ceiling would be Giancarlo Stanton.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Did you really have to throw the extra 10% in there? Might as well of added fire of the belly while you were at it. :P

                • hansman1982

                  What do you think would give him that 110% and let him leave it all out on the field.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    That is scraptastic.

              • hansman1982

                Oops…hit submit too soon.

                But odds are, he is found face down in the shallow end of the prospect pool.

            • Jp3

              His K totals make Mark Reynalds blush, I’m really hoping he grows out of that a bit. He’s still young so I don’t want to overreact on it before the season is over.

          • Kyle

            OK, take the scouting report for Corey Patterson.

            Add 10 points of power (on the 20-80 scale). Remove 10 points of defense and 5 points of hit tool. Flip his batting side. Move him from SS to CF.

            Congratulations, you’ve got Corey Patterson.

            • Kyle

              2#%@#%.

              “Congratulations, you’ve got Javier Baez.”

        • Feeney

          Anthony Rizzo as a 20 year old had a K% of 25 in the minors. Baez settles in and starts playing a bit better and he could easily end the season in that same area. Guys do have to learn along the way. Anthony Rizzo wasn’t Anthony Rizzo right away.

          • Kyle

            No, he didn’t.

            In his age 20 season, Rizzo struck out 21.9% of the time (132 in 602 PAs) between A+ and AA.

            If Baez has a 21.9% K rate, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

            • Feeney

              Oh well I will get the hang of this abacus eventually.

              Ultimately I think having this discussion now is a little premature. If he finishes the season at 30% then it’s something worth discussing. IMO anyone calling a guy, with less than 500 minor league PAs as a 20 year old, a bust at this point is ludicrous.

              • Kyle

                No one has called him a bust. We’ve said that the risk of bust-iness is higher than we’d like.

                Strikeout rates are known to stabilize very quickly. Your K rate after 130 PAs is probably going to be fairly similar to your K rate after 500.

                • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                  I did say “He will be a bust”.
                  And I ain’t backin down.

                • Feeney

                  I’ve seen a couple people calling him a bust and talking about trading Baez and Almora.

                  There’s no way to know the right course of action and it depends on the trades but I wonder if Blue Jay fans wish they had some of their prospects back?

                  I am just saying I don’t think there’s enough data to even make an educated guess on those two Cubs prospects at this point. It’s a concerning number but at this point I think people making a judgement are jumping the gun.

            • hansman1982

              It’s really fun to compare Rizzo’s and Votto’s minor league numbers.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Also, (and as other have emphasized in different ways) K-rates alone can be misleading. Rizzo K’ed at 20.3%. Baez is K’ing at 23.9%. That is “only” 17% more K’s. However, Rizzo walked 9.5% of PAs: Baez is walking 4% of PAs.

            The high-BB, high-K stats diagnose good pitch recognition +”selective aggression”: i.e., good batting eyes (good walk numbers), but sacrificing contact for power (high K numbers). Low-BB, high-K stats diagnose bad pitch recognition: it’s not just that a guy is swinging at non-strikes, he is swinging at pitches he cannot hit. 2.1K’s per BB is acceptable; 5.9K’s per BB is not.

    • Justin

      It sucks to think, but I am having deja vu with Baez’s insane strikeouts and Brett Jackson. They both have so much talent, and one fatal flaw. Baez, is striking out like an absolute maniac in High A ball, smh..

      • ari gold

        Yeah and Brett Jackson could take a walk. The thing to most look at in the lower minors is K/BB rates. Baez is horrible in that regard. I’ll have to go look it up, but I believe Corey Patterson’s rates were better in high A.

        • hansman1982

          Patterson struck out 16-ish% of the time in A ball but only walked 4% of the time.

      • Alex S

        “They both have so much talent, and one fatal flaw.”

        The “one fatal flaw” comment reminded me of Aristotle’s poetics and the whole tragic flaw thing. So here goes:

        Oedipus Baez by Sophocles

        His tragic flaw was that he struck out too much against everyone…except his mother. Oh, and he killed his father.

  • jp3

    We need to release the logjam that is Cubs OF prospects. Need some trades so everyone can move up a league, if we’re trying to lose lets do it like the Stros and have a no named low cost OF. Sweeney, Bogesivic and Schierholtz sound good. Bam, the floodgates would be open:)

    • ssckelley

      There is no logjam, the MLB team is 12-20 and the AAA team is 11-17 with a collection of cast offs and fringy prospects occupying the Cubs bench and the ICubs outfield. If any of these prospects in the lower levels were ready the Cubs would be moving them through the system instead of picking up every waiver guy that has a pulse.

      We will soon see if Sweeney does have something to offer at the MLB level or is another AAAA player and before we all start clamoring for Bogusevic keep in mind he is the former #1 draft pick of the Houston Astros who was allowed to walk via free agency.

      • Jp3

        Hmm that’s exactly what I mean by release the logjam that is AAA and the major league team. Ha and Sczcur could be playing in Iowa right now but the Cubs have too many fringe guys they’re holding on to to shuffle between Iowa and Chicago trying to maximize trade value… They’re all hitting well but why do we care what Bogusivic, Sweeney, borbon, and Sappelt can do at AAA? Sweeney is about the only one mentioned thats a legit 4th OF on a competitive team. Ha is definetly ready for his next challenge and Szczur has shown he could use a bump. What are they waiting for? I believe it’s to trade one of the many fringe guys we’re holding onto with the kungfu grip.

        • Jp3

          Ewww yikes, never mind on Szczur. He’s had a rough start to may but I still think he’s about ready to get to Iowa sometime this year. He’s hitting about .100 with obp .180ish in May so far but he did hit .295/.366 in April.

        • Kyle

          You could probably move Ha up if you wanted to, but the fact that he started this year at AA after 1.5 years there already seems to say the Cubs don’t think much of him.

          Szczur could definitely use another 200 PAs or so at AA.

          • Jp3

            Yeah I jumped the gun on Szczur. Last time I looked at his season slash line was good at the end of April, now it’s cooled off a bit, albeit only about a week and a half into the month of April. I’d like to see Ha move up because I’d like to see what he does against borderline MLB pitching. I agree in that 1.5 years in AA is a lot for someone and could suggest he’s tapped his ceiling. From everything I’ve read he’s probably the best fielding OF in the Cubs organization and if he hit .300/.350obp that’s pretty serviceable CF 4th OF material. Dejesus but younger I guess.

        • ssckelley

          I don’t care how those players do at AAA, but I doubt the Cubs would hang on to these types of players if they had prospects ready to take their spots.

          Hopefully the day is coming the Cubs will not have to sign everyones cast offs in order to find a 4th outfielder.

  • Rebuilding

    Man I hope Garza stays on course. The Dodgers are injured, desperate and have a terrible GM in Ned Colletti. Would love to fleece them for Joc Pederson and/or Corey Seager

  • ETS

    White sox’s Keenyn Walker has k’d 35 times though he also has 16 walks. Courtney Hawkins has 45k’s in 89 PA’s.

    • cas-castro

      and they have TWTW

  • Stu

    The logjam will be solved in 2 months. Why else sign Borbon?

    • Jp3

      Ugh, don’t remind me. I will say at least our fringe guys in AAA have been killing it in the hitter friendly pcl, which is funny that Stewart has been terrible. I hope we can parlay some of this surprisingly good pitching depth,(wood, Villanueva, and Feldman) and an OF for some high upside arms like the Viscaino trade last year.

      • Rcleven

        Please don’t mention Wood in trade talks. Wood is just starting to come into his own. Young and Cheap and under control. This kid is the future.
        Feldman, Garza, Villanueva are fillers.
        Not saying never trade wood. Not now.

  • JoeyCollins

    Any word on how Vog is looking at first?

    • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

      Terrible.

      Source? My eyes after watching 6 or so games with him in the field

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I’ve got his ceiling at first as “slightly below average,” so I’d say he’s about on track.

        • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

          luckily most of what is wrong with him is his footwork, which is truly awful right now. That’s fixable.

          Lack of height and range is going to hurt him quite a bit. *****ONLY DEFENSIVELY ONLY***** I think his defensive ceiling is Prince Fielder if he gets the footwork right, so below average to about a full negative win

      • Rcleven

        His bat will hide a lot of deficiency at first base.
        Hits for average, plenty of power, willing to take a walk.
        If not for the Cubs he will be playing in the majors some day.

        • Kyle

          I think from now on, whenever someone asks about Vogelbach’s defense, we should just answer with how good his bat is. Don’t worry about his defense, it’s awful and doesn’t matter.

          • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

            I only ever think of the defense because of the very, uh, spirited discussions I’ve had in these comments about whether he could play OF. I feel like it is necessary to hammer home the “bad defender” thing so people stop bringing it up

          • ssckelley

            You never know, maybe by the time he is ready to graduate to the MLB team the National League will have adopted the DH.

          • Rcleven

            Going to KC games I have seen him play. Small sample size? Ya.
            To describe his D as terrible is an over statement.
            He may not be the best defender in baseball at low A ball but he doesn’t need to be. All he needs to do is progress.
            The kids in low A ball for Christ sake. He has only played at pro ball for a year.
            To form an opinion on him either way is nuts. I read the scouting reports too.
            They are not always accurate.
            He has shown to be OK at first. Still plenty of time to improve.
            From what I have seen from him, and excites me most, is his willingness to take a walk. 16 K’s in 124 PA’s. .371 OBP.
            But lets focus on what he can’t do. What a Debbie downer.

            • Kyle

              Did you read my post? I was saying we should stop focusing on what he can’t do and talk about his offense more. Exactly what you said in your last paragraph.

            • Rcleven

              Sorry. I quoted his short season numbers.
              Low A ball even better.
              168 PA’s 23BB’s 34 K’s .322/.423/.608 1.031 OPS

  • Chad

    Baez is striking out A LOT in A ball, what happens in AA, AAA, and in Chicago? That worries me. I was hoping by this year he would settle in the the Cub’s Way and be more patient/disciplined. Right now against what I would consider less than stellar pitching on a daily basis he is strikeout prone and that is with inexperienced pitchers. It does make me a little nervous, but I’m not ready to give up on him yet, but if he were traded I wouldn’t be upset either.

  • Zachary

    Not only does he strike out a lot but they are on some awful pitches. I hope we use him and a few other prospects to land Stanton. I do think Baez will be a pretty good MLB player but out of the big three I would rather lose him

    • BluBlud

      Out of the big three, I would rather lose Almora. Apparently everybody likes him, thinks he’ll be a stud, but I strongly suspect he’ll be an average CF. If we can headline Almora in trade for Stanton, that would be ideal. However, if Baez and none of the other 2/3 of our top three(Soler, Vogelbach) are traded, then I would be happy.

      • ssckelley

        “but I strongly suspect he’ll be an average CF”

        On what basis?

        • BluBlud

          You disagree, you tell me on what basis will he be the next willie mays. Or even the next Andrew Jones for that matter. I think he is riding the hype of Theo’s first draft pick. May he will be a star, maybe he won’t.

          I hope he does, but I don’t see it.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            No one has enough data to go either way on that. He has barely played professionally. Once he gets a hundred or so completely healthy PAs under his belt this season, then we can start to get a clearer idea just where he slots.

            The potential is there for him to be a very good one, but as shown with Baez, it takes more than just potential.

          • Cubbie Blues

            He really hasn’t posted enough numbers to really say one way or the other. He has a very high floor and a ceiling of an all-star player. Relax, it’s OK to let things play out a bit and see where they land. To have someone at 19 years old that you already know will be an average CFer (I’ll call that the 15th best CFer in the world) isn’t a bad thing at all.

            • BluBlud

              No, I think he’s an average CF at best. I think he’ll be great defensively, but I’m not to impressed with his bat. I think when it shakes out, he be Darwin Barney in CF. That would be great, IMO. Most teams would kill to have a Darwin Barney type CFer. But to hype him as our best prospect is crazy, IMO. I think of a few who I would put higher.

              • hansman1982

                His BB rate is something to keep an eye on, but one thing that has always been scouted about him is the terrific batting eye. So, by the end of this season, we should have a better gauge on his BB rate. If it is as good as praised, you should see a close to 100 point IsoD which should put him .320+ for OBP.

              • ssckelley

                So you have seen Almora hit in person in order to make this conclusion or are you basing everything off of his limited stats he has had in his first season in the low minors? He is a year removed from high school and has 145 total plate appearances, none higher than Boise.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Average CF vs. “Next Willie Mays” is about as false a dichotomy as there is: give that, there have been about zero above-average CFers in the last 45 years.

            Of course, there are two parts to this: how well he plays CF and how good a hitter Almora is. All reports indicate that Almora is gifted with the tool of instantly knowing where the batted ball will land. Such players do not chase balls: they intercept them. One plus is that such players *usually* have very good batting eyes: after all, it’s the same neurophysiological tool at work. Almora’s relatively low-K rate corroborates this. More interestingly, Almora’s solid batting numbers coupled with very low BB-rates hint at a very different plus tool: this guy must have a red zone the size of the strike zone.

            Now, that red zone is going to shrink as Almora goes up levels, but usually the propensity to *not* swing at bad pitches does not go up. Luke is correct that we need to see how this plays out: but the early data are consistent with that rare sort of “plus eye, plus contact” batter.

          • ssckelley

            I don’t have any basis that Almora will be the next Willie Mays. I answered your question now you answer mine.

            • Blublud

              I think the reports of a good batting eye are false. It is also said that Barney has a good batting eye, I totally disagree with that. Barney has a subpar batting eye. He makes up for it with some of the best contact skills in all baseball. He swings at a lot of balls he shouldn’t, but because of his contact skills, puts the ball in play, but softly. I see the same with almora. This explains the low walk rate, low SO rate. Guys with great batting eyes have higher walk rates.

              I think people confuse batting eye with contact skill. Very few peolle In baseball have both.

              • TWC

                “I think the reports of a good batting eye are false.”

                Yeah. Because it effs with your “BAEZ IZ DA GREATEST EVA!!!!!1lol!1!!1″ narrative.

                • Blublud

                  No. Because it makes sense. I definitely think Baez is more risky, but I also think he has much more potential then Almora.

                  • TWC

                    Sure, Jay. “[I]t makes sense.” Right. Just like your comment that Darwin fracking Barney has “some of the best contact skills in all baseball”.

                    • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

                      Darwin Barney DOES have some of the best contact skills in baseball. Amongst all qualified hitters since 2010, Barney’s 91.1% contact rate ranks 9th out of 240. Of course, much of that is because he sees so many fastballs due to his lack of power, but statistically few put the bat on the ball more often than him

                      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y&type=5&season=2013&month=0&season1=2010&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=8,d

                    • TWC

                      Yeah, total derp. I thought about that too little before I his “submit”. My mind changed “contact skills” to OBP.

                    • Blublud

                      Right, because statistical proof that Darwin Barney has some of the best contact skills in baseball means absolutely nothing. He swings at plenty of horrible pitches, but he is one of the best at making contact when he swings. Do you think I just made that up.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      What does it say about our players that #2, 9 & 11 have all played for the Cubs?

              • hansman1982

                “It is also said that Barney has a good batting eye, I totally disagree with that.”

                Where do you see this at?

                “…but softly. I see the same with almora.”

                Almora, nearly 10 years younger than Barney, has a 10.3% XBH rate. Barney has a 6.3% XBH percentage.

                “This explains the low walk rate, low SO rate. Guys with great batting eyes have higher walk rates.”

                Either Almora has a batting eye that has so thoroughly fooled nearly everyone that has scouted him (except you) or there is something funky with the sample we have. It’s not that he has a low BB rate, it’s that he has a historically low BB rate. His walk rate is rivaled only by professional slow-pitch softball players.

                “I think people confuse batting eye with contact skill. Very few peolle In baseball have both.”

                I’d say that those of us who are debating this with you are not doing this.

                and then this one:

                “I think the reports of a good batting eye are false.”

                Either you are the smartest man in all of baseball or the concurrent reports that Almora is very advanced at the plate ties in with Doc’s theory that Almora has an exceptional batting eye with above-average contact skills and a giant red-zone.

                Typically scouts don’t miss this badly (this would be like someone telling you a car is white, but when you see it is black). A guy with a great batting eye might end up with only an average batting eye (a car being billed as red is actually maroon) but guys don’t go from great batting eyes to 1.4% walk rates.

                • BluBlud

                  Hansman, you have totally confused me here. I can’t tell if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me.

                  • hansman1982

                    Oh, I disagree with you.

                • BluBlud

                  10 % extra base hits. Remember the small sample size arguement that y’all use for Almora when I point to something. Shouldn’t that also apply to you also. Once again, i think Almora is a good prospect. I do not think Almora is a Super Star. But then again, maybe 2 or 3 people on the whole top 100 list will ever be close to a Super Star, and it’s probably not the ones either of us would think. I think Super Stars are rare, and I think we have 3 potential super stars in our system. Yes, I think Vogelbach has more Super Star potential then Almora, but I also think he has more bust potential then Almora. Same goes for Baez and Soler. My arguement is that super stars are so rare, that if you have a prospect with the potential to be one, you need to hold on to them. I think Almora may have less risk then anybody in the system, but I can think of a few guys with more potential. My problem with the prospect ranking, that I disagree with most people, are that they elevate the low risk guys above the high Ceiling guys, and I would much rather have the high Ceiling guys. I would put Profar in the same conversation as Almora. I feel you can always add low risk guys through free agency, but Super Stars are not easy to find, even if they do have much more bust potential.

                  • hansman1982

                    I agree, it’s a small sample size and I am comparing Almora in A- ball to Barney in MLB.

                    It’s not so much that I think Almora has more star potential or where to rank Almora and Baez it’s that I think your analysis of Almora (beyond the broad brush strokes) is completely wrong.

                    Regarding sample size and BB/K rates, he is at the level that they should have normalized (or at least be closer to normal). The 10% K rate is believable, the 1.3% BB rate, isn’t.

                    Since the BB rate is historically low (and contradicts everything published about Almora (and fits the reports of the advanced approach at the plate)) I need a bigger sample size.

                    • BluBlud

                      Lastly, let me reiterate that I do not dislike Almora. I hope Almora turns into Willie Mays, Baez into Chipper Jones, Soler into Sammy Sosa, Vogelbach into Prince Fielder and Vizcaino in Pedro martinez, and so on. I think we would all love that.

                      I think Almora is a contact making fool and like barney, will be one of the best in baseball. But look at the list TC posted and tell what percentage of the players at the top of that list are considered stars.

                    • hansman1982

                      I don’t think you are hating on him, just incorrect in what you view to be his abilities.

                      I am also saying that there is something funky going on with the production because it does, fundamentally, differ from the scouting reports and as such, we need a larger sample size to throw out the scouting reports at this time.

                      If he does have as tremendous of a contact ability as you lay out, and his batting eye is close to what the scouts say, I think the only thing that would hold him back from being a super star is the power.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    I hope Luke doesn’t mind. I stole this from him on the Message board from way back in January when he was getting his top 40 list together. The difference that we see in the prospects lies in where we would rank these players below.

                    “When ranking prospects… something that is admittedly an artificial construct of limited actual utility… what do you give more weight to: a player’s potential, or the likelihood of that player reaching the majors.

                    Let’s set up a hypothetical to make things easy. Each of these five fictional players are being rated in two categories on a fairly standard 2 – 8 scale (analogous to the 20 – 80 scale you’re used to). “Potential” refers to how good a player is likely to be when he reaches the majors. This is NOT the same thing as Ceiling. I’m not talking about how good he can be in a near ideal scenario, but how good he is likely to be. I know it’s vague, but this is a hypothetical. Just go with it for now.

                    “Likelihood” refers to the chance that the player will make it to the majors and stick around for awhile. Again, vague, go with it for now.

                    Albert Potential: 5 Likelihood: 4
                    Barry Potential: 4 Likelihood: 7
                    Carl Potential: 8 Likelihood: 3
                    David Potential: 6: Likelihood: 5
                    Edgar Potential: 5 Likelihood: 6

                    In what order would you rank these five players?

                    Edgar is easily ranked over Albert (both are P:5, but Edger has a higher L). After that, it gets more interesting.”

                  • hansman1982

                    Also, Baez, at his current K and BB rates, has an exceptionally small chance of being a super star. There is the normal, hey this guy is a prospect in A+ ball and has a small chance, then you compound that with the fact he is at a 30% K rate (and not showing much in the way of production overall) and suddenly, the ceiling is getting mighty low.

  • Kyle

    As whitewashes go, Luke, that’s a good effort, but it doesn’t wash :)

    Sure, Baez is still a much better prospect than your average, run-of-the-mill schlub with a 30% K rate. But a 30% K rate is still a very, very, very bad omen for his future. I feel like I’m honestly not using enough very’s there.

    Prospects shouldn’t be judged by numbers alone, and especially not by slash lines or ERA, but some numbers do matter a lot, and strikeouts (for both pitchers and hitters) matter a lot.

    I’ve posted this study before, but it’s very important in that it confirms something that scouts and prospect nerds already knew:

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2011/4/22/2123847/the-significance-of-minor-league-k-rates

    The study looks at top-100 prospects (position players only) and their chances of reaching 1500 ABs in the majors. K-rate was the single most dominant defining factor in which prospects made it and which ones didn’t.

    The average K-rate for these prospects was 16.4%. Prospects below that threshold had a bust rate of 31.8%. Prospects above that line had a bust rate of 51.4%. And the bust rate rises with the strikeouts. Prospects who strike out 24% of the time or more busted 77.3% of the time.

    This confirms the concerns we had last season, that many made excuses for (it’s just the AFL, he just got promoted, rainouts, his OPS for the season is still fine, etc.) I’m trying not to overstate things, because it’s not as if Baez just stops being a prospect at this point, or even a really good prospect. But he has lost some status and the bust concerns are rising from a faint whisper to a buzz. The Sheffield comps are clearly out of line and out of reach at this point. Unless things turn around significantly, he’s not shooting up into the top-15 like we’d hoped.

    Honestly, if I had to do our top prospects list after the draft, I’d go:

    No. 2 draft pick
    Soler
    Almora
    Baez
    Vogelbach
    Vizcaino

    And Baez would be closer to dropping down a few spots than he would be to moving up.

    • ssckelley

      You make some valid points and my concerns with Baez grow as does his strikeout totals. He is in high A ball and striking out at an alarming rate, this has to get better or he will flame out. The pitching is only going to get better as he progresses through the system.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I’ve never seen that study, thanks for posting again, and I agree 100% with everything you said here.
      For people to blindly say that Baez will be fine is just being a homer. If he was on the Rangers and we were talking about trading Garza to Texas, NO ONE here would be saying Baez should be the primary target because of his K/BB rates.

      But since he’s a Cub, the blinders are on.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I pretty much agree with all of this, except I’d still give Baez the benefit of the doubt over Almora who hasn’t shown much in the way of patience himself in his (extremely) short time as a professional.

      But Baez’s K% is a big reason why I ranked Soler on top of the Top 40.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        It’s not *just* the K rate or *just* the patience. It’s the combination of both.

        Baez = High K, Low BB
        Almora = Low K, Low BB

        Low/Low is clearly the preferable choice.

      • Kyle

        Patience and contact are interrelated, but still two different things.

        Almora struck out just nine percent of the time in his limited exposure to pro ball. He needs to walk more, but he’s not being fundamentally overmatched like Baez is.

        The low BB rates are annoying because it lowers his ceiling. The high K rates are terrifying because it lowers his floor.

      • Jp3

        Luke, did I miss Ha’s injury? He hasn’t played since May 1st.

        • Kyle

          Didn’t he hurt himself in warmups? I think it was a back injury?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I was thinking side, not back, but I’d have to go look. Pulled something if I recall correctly.

            • Jp3

              Damn, that sucks. It’s been almost a week, I guess those pulled muscles can be nagging.

    • Cubbie Blues

      My biggest qualm with this is the

      “This confirms the concerns we had last season, that many made excuses for”

      Is it’s not that everyone was making excuses. Sometimes people just don’t want to overreact one way or the other when there is the possibility that there are other circumstances that may be in play. I was one that would say that maybe he wasn’t being challenged enough. That is not to say I was making an excuse for him, but that it was definitely a possibility (and it was). Now, I can say that I have some big question marks with him. I just took a little more time to look at what he is doing instead of making a knee-jerk reaction last year.

      • Kyle

        What you call not wanting to overreact, I call not wanting to change opinions appropriately with new information, especially if that change is negative.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Yes, that is correct you do always want to change to the negative. Sometimes with prospects, you just have to sit back and see what unfolds. What are we going to do about it as fans anyway? Even if we were the FO you’re not going to cut them lose. You may try to trade them and they still might. What fun is it as a fan if you are always going to look at a situation as doom and gloom?

          I was always cautious (as I think most were) of his K% last year. But, why not let things play out a bit before calling for the sky to fall?

          • Kyle

            That entire post was an exercise in cognitive dissonance. I am not always negative about prospects and I am not calling for the sky to fall on Javier Baez.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Then why the passionate discourse? When you take such a hard line against, there seems to be a genuine disgust for the player. Most people are not so hard lined that they can’t see the other side, but you try to pound it so hard the other way the other side (who might agree with some of your points) has no choice other than to a) ignore you or b) argue where they think you are missing the boat or overlooking or not acknowledging something in your argument.

              • Kyle

                I make my points thoroughly. I also thoroughly debunk bad arguments.

                Any emotion you read into it is your own cognitive biases, not in the text itself.

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Never mind, I’m going to go have a sandwich.

                  • baseballet

                    Kyle thinks your sandwich is overrated.

    • jt

      I have not a clue as to the answer but I wonder how defining is any factor at that age and at that level?

  • Spriggs

    I used to call up the Daytona box scores every night with great anticipation. Now I sort of dread doing it and cringe a lot when I look at the K column. At least Soler is picking it up a little.

  • Kramden

    Seems you guys are more concerned about Baez’s K-Rate than the Cubs seem to be. If it was such a big deal to them you’d expect some intense instruction by now and would likely start seeing those K’s slowly going down and contact going up. But we aren’t seeing that right now.

    • Eric

      So you know exactly what they are telling him behind closed doors, how? And just because he hasn’t been able to lower strikeouts that somehow magically means that no one has told him to even try to lower them?

      • ssckelley

        Oh come on Eric, you know damn well the Cubs are known for coming out publicly about this kind of stuff especially when it concerns one of their top prospects. Kramden is right, we should just sit down, shut up, and stop all this silly discussion about a prospects high strike out rate. We should discuss it after the Cubs announce it is a concern.

    • Kyle

      That’s got to be my new favorite argument *ever*.

      “Guys, why are you worried about Carlos Marmol being terrible? If the Cubs were concerned about it, they’d give him some intense instruction and he’d be not terrible anymore, But he’s still terrible, so obviously the Cubs aren’t concerned and you shouldn’t be either.”

      QED, mfers.

  • Kramden

    So basically what you’re saying is that it is a major concern
    fo the Cubs right now, they likely are giving him some intense instruction to cut down on the swing and just try to make contact…, but Baez can’t do it and is a bust?

    You deserve the Nobel Prize in baseball for that assumption.

    • ssckelley

      I think if the Cubs are seeing the same thing we are and are ignoring it then the Cubs need to get new minor league instructors. You seriously think the Cubs are ok with one of their top prospects striking out over 30% of the time in A ball?

    • Kyle

      Seriously, this is just the best thing ever.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “Cutting down” on a swing *might* help on contact on pitches in the strike zone. It helps much less on pitches outside the strike zone. Moreover, my guess is that heat charts would show that Baez is deadly on pitches in the strike zone, and that his periodic “good series” coincide with teams adopting the “throw strikes” strategy (as opposed to “get Batter X out this way” or “make him chase” strategies). It’s swinging at non-strikes that is killing him.

      Seriously, if *any* system could find coaches who could teach “batting eye,” then that team would crank out high quality batters like nothing we have ever seen.

  • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

    Complete list of Baseball America Top 100 Prospects since 1990 who have walked in less than 5% of their plate appearances while also striking out in more than 27% of their PAs:

    Chris Davis, who was ranked 65th at his highest

    That’s it. My point isn’t to say that Baez is ever going to hit like Davis, but to point out just how rare it is for such a highly regarded prospect to have such abysmal plate discipline. Personally, I find the fact that Baez is in such uncharted waters quite unsettling

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      wow, how long did it take you to do that?

      • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

        hah, about 4 seconds.

        I put together a giant-ass spreadsheet with plate discipline data on all BA Top 100 prospects for an article I wrote in march about how bad Baez’s plate discipline has been so far. I was hoping to write an update article now that Baez has passed 200 PAs in A+ over two seasons, but there’s almost no one to compare him to.

        *SHAMELESS PLUG BELOW*

        If you wanted to read that article, you can click on my name and scroll down for it, or go to the message board here on BN, because I posted it in the “Minor Leagues” section

    • hansman1982

      I find it rather humerous that Hendry finally spends big in the draft and the top prospect he leaves us with is the pinnacle of Hendry prospects.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I didn’t want to pile on and be the harbinger of doom, but his K rate has always scared me, and this year it is terrifying me (because it is coupled with the shockingly low BB rate).

      I think his “breakout” Spring Training – swinging for the fences, and reaching them – was probably the worst thing that could have happened to him at that time.

      That said, he’s 20. There’s still plenty of time for a kid with his abilities – the kinds you can’t teach.

      • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com TC

        Yep, and his abilities, specifically his outrageous bat speed, should let people have much more hope for him than they would most other top prospects with bad plate discipline.

        The bat speed lets him wait until the pitch is very deep before he has to start his swing. If he can start to see pitches better out of a pitcher’s hand, he has the ability to wait on them longer than pretty much anyone in the minors right now. Ideally, that would allow him to become a very selective hitter who crushes pitches he puts his bat on. I just wish there were examples of prospects actually doing that in recent memory.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        He is 20. That definitely cannot be over stated.

        But even if he turns things around, the high K% doesn’t strike me as something that the Cubs are going to be comfortable with. I strongly suspect the Cubs will look to move Baez while he is near peak value.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          That was about 35 days ago.

          • Spriggs

            Man, I really, really, really hope you’re wrong. Swings like his just do not come along often. I am really scared now though.

    • Rebuilding

      The really scary part is that the skill of pitch recognition is not really “teachable”. It pretty much is what it is. You would think with Baez’s power he would be pitched around enough to have higher than a 4% BB rate. I keep hoping that it was just the 4 HRs in spring training that has him hacking away and there is a good eye hidden away in there, but probably not

  • ari gold

    Just to think Lindor went 1 spot ahead of us. He’s absolutely tearing up A ball right now, and will stick at SS.

  • Kramden

    Maybe he just needs glasses

  • Kyle

    I’m tired of arguing (correctly) how scary Baez’s start is.

    Let’s all talk about how awesome Jorge Soler is. I’ll start:

    Pretty darn awesome.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I hear he was the No 1 prospect on the Bleacher Nation Top 40.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        You should ride that one as far as it’ll take you, as you were the only guy who had him there that I can remember at that time.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Minor rage issues aside, Soler does look like a “much lower probability of missing than most” prospect!

      Seriously, me-likey……

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Yes. 12% BB, 15% K, with power…that’s more like it.

  • Rebuilding

    It’s also going to be very interesting what happens if Baez and Soler don’t move up as quickly as some of us hoped. That would give us essentially the same lineup or the equivalent (maybe Watkins for Barney or other such tweaks) in 2015. Arguably, we might be worse if DeJesus is gone and Valbuena regresses (or Vitters has the job). I’ve always hoped you could plug those two impact bats at 2b/3b and RF then go get a power hitting LF and you’ve got a really nice offense. If not, we are back to fingers in the dike

  • Rebuilding

    Also, if the FO is as concerned about Baez as some of us are Kris Bryant might be getting a lot longer look as the #2 pick

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      They won’t draft based on need. They will take who they think is best, and it will likely be Appel/Gray.

      • Rebuilding

        Not trying to argue, but you base that they won’t draft based on need on what? They have stated repeatedly that they prefer a bat in the first round because of the lower bust factor if its roughly equivalent. I’ve seen people have Bryant over Gray. Not saying you’re wrong, but who knows what all they will consider

        • Kyle

          Picking a bat because they bust less often isn’t drafting on need.

          • Rebuilding

            True. But if they are overly concerned that their “3rd baseman of the future” might bust it just might make them take a longer look. That’s all I’m saying

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Even if Baez does bust, the Cubs are not hurting for depth at third.

  • Rebuilding

    Hey Brett – I’m sure you’ve posted on this before, but did Soler ever play in any international competitions? The reason I ask is because I’m sure that would give a little more confidence that his listed age is correct. He looks like such a man-child. Has there ever been a peep of controversy about hi age?

    • Cyranojoe

      He played for the Cuban national team in international competition, including the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship, or so says Wikipedia.

    • Cubbie Blues

      He played for Cuba.

    • Rebuilding

      Thanks. My memory was a little fuzzy on that

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