Because of his almost unthinkably high ceiling and his almost unspeakably low floor, Javier Baez might be the most interesting player on the Chicago Cubs. He’s young, he’s athletic, he plays middle infield, he’s got great baseball instincts, and he’s got the kind of swing that the Cubs could lease out to cities doing demolition projects. He also struck out 41.5% of the time in his big league debut last year – a number so high that we really don’t have context for a player succeeding long-term after such a mark.
Baez might succeed, though. He might be incredible. That’s how unique he is.
Getting there, however, will take some work. It will take approach changes at the plate, as well as some mechanical changes to his swing. Fortunately for the Cubs and for Baez, the organization recently brought in one of the best swing coaches in the game, who also seems to have a pretty darn good idea of how players need to approach their at bats. That man is new Cubs hitting coach John Mallee, who will try to get the most out of Baez’s potential, as well as the Cubs’ ever-burgeoning collection of young, talented bats.
As for Baez, specifically, the work won’t wait for Spring Training. As we’ve discussed, Baez has headed to Puerto Rico to play in the winter league there, and he’ll be playing in games starting next week.
But Baez isn’t just going down there to play in some games and get in some at bats. It sounds like he’ll be working on his swing, and he won’t be alone:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) December 5, 2014
That’s just so awesome. What else can you say about it, right? Sure, it’s not a super long time – just a few weeks – and there are only so many things they can accomplish in that time. But it underscores just how important Baez is, how good he can be, how much confidence the organization has in Mallee, and how well you can use the offseason to improve.
Don’t expect any dramatic changes because of this. But it’s undoubtedly a really good thing.