Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Forget the big league team loss for a little bit – you can just forget it, right? you have that ability? – and take note of a couple big homers down on the farm.

First, there was Javy Baez going way deep to dead center:

That was a fairly aggressive swing from Baez, though it obviously paid off.

On the year, he’s hittingĀ .291/.371/.456 with a strikeout rate right around 25% in his 21 games at AAA Iowa (and it’s been under 25% for the last 10 games). He’s standing much closer to the plate this year – as first noted by Todd Johnson – which is a small change, but one that can have dramatic effects if you can pull it off. Obviously we’ve seen that with Anthony Rizzo, as being close to the plate allows much better coverage of the outer half. On the flip side, it makes you extremely vulnerable to pitches on the inner half eating you up. It takes excellent recognition skills and very quick hands to accommodate that kind of change. We know that Baez has the latter, but we’ll see about the former. Otherwise, you’re just going to trade one hole for another.

(Speaking of which: will someone get Jorge Soler to move three inches closer to the plate? Thanks.)

The other big homer down on the farm yesterday came from Kyle Schwarber:

And a look at that bomb from behind home plate:

Great sound.

As for Schwarber, he’s now hittingĀ .306/.442/.620 with 10 homers in 38 games, walking nearly 20% of the time (and he’s struck out just twice more than he’s walked). This is a very special hitter, and it’s a guy who is pretty clearly ready for the offensive challenge of AAA.

I still think it’s going to be interesting to see how the Cubs proceed. Do they move him to AAA, which would be an additional challenge for the glove (catching is catching, but the pitching is better, requiring better receiving, and the baserunning is better, too)? Do they do that knowing that he’d have to get most of the starts behind the plate at a level where the Cubs need to keep a back-up-back-up catching option fresh and ready for the big league team? Do they instead bring him to AAA for his bat, while starting him periodically at catcher and at least half-time in the outfield? Or do they leave him at AA to keep working on the catching side of things, knowing that the bat is not being challenged?

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