Because of how Spring Training played out, because he missed time, and because of the emergence of other youngsters, it’s been easy to allow Javier Baez to fall, in your mind, to the back-burner. But the 22-year-old infielder has been hard at work on the changes with which he was tasked when he was sent to the minors at the end of Spring Training.
To that end, we should check back in on Baez … who just so happens to have hit this bomb last night:
You can still see the explosive power there, but the swing is slightly more controlled.
In 13 games so far at Iowa this year, Baez is hitting .265/.357/.429 over 56 plate appearances. His strikeout rate is down to 28.6%, the lowest since he was at High-A. His walk rate is up to 8.9%, the highest it’s ever been for him in the minors.
The sample size, of course, is small. And Baez will have to continue managing his newfound approach, balancing against losing too much power.
Having watched a bit of Baez on MiLB.tv, I can say that the swing is still fairly aggressive. The leg kick looks a little less pronounced, but I haven’t seen him consistently shortening up with two strikes. The hands are a little lower. The extreme bat waggle is gone. He looks just a little more upright.
Any changes he’s made, mechanically, are subtle – which, in all honesty, is what you’d prefer over wholesale dramatic changes. Working on pitch recognition is, perhaps, the bigger issue for Baez, and that’s not something you can necessarily see in the swing – and you need a much, much bigger sample to say anything is different.
So, long story short: it’s early, but there are some positive signs.
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