Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

javier baez featureWhen Javier Baez came up in 2014, I did not like the move. I thought it was too soon. While he had made some improvements in Iowa, those improvements were too new to him and I was afraid he’d regress back to his old ways as soon as he ran into trouble. As it turned out, his 2014 campaign in the majors went even worse than my darkest imaginings.

This time is different. This time I can’t wait to see what Baez can do in the majors. His improved approach, including a nice looking swing that he uses with two strikes (and should use more often, I think), has lead to a strikeout rate under 25%. That is a very healthy rate for a Triple A slugger, and is down right good when you consider that is Baez is still just the fifth youngest player in all of Triple A (with a minimum of 300 plate appearances). As he has consistently done throughout his professional career, Baez has adjusted. Now we get to see those adjustments in the middle of a playoff chase.

Don’t sleep on the rest of his game, though. The bat is the big story, and if he gets hot that bat is potentially big enough to carry the Cubs for a time, but the rest of Baez’s game is nearly as good. His defense at short, second, and third is reliable and occasionally spectacular. His base running is among the smartest in the organization. He can be a notable asset for the Cubs as a starting infielder, possibly as a starting outfielder, or coming off the bench. Likely he’ll do all three.

Success is not guaranteed, but he has done what he needed to do to put himself in a position to succeed. I’ll enjoy watching him test those adjustments down the stretch this month.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – The Cubs badly needed a win, and they got one in this 9-3 final.
Tennessee – The Smokies opened up a large lead in the middle innings and turned it into a 9-1 win.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans had the day off.
South Bend – South Bend jumped to an early lead that became a 10-4 win.
Eugene – Eugene had Monday off.
Arizona – Arizona started their playoff game, but it was suspended due to rain.

Performances of Note

  • [Iowa] Felipe Paulino gave up 3 runs in the first, but settled down after that. He finished with a line of 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks over 5 innings. He struck out 3.

  • [Iowa] Zac Rosscup (2 IP, 3 K), Rafael Soriano (1 IP, 1 K), and P.J. Francescon (1 IP, 2 H) pitched well in relief.
  • [Iowa] Thanks to 12 walks, Iowa was able to score their 9 runs on just 9 hits.
  • [Iowa] Taylor Davis finished 3 for 4 for the only multi-hit game. Christian Villanueva reached 4 times on a hit and 3 walks.
  • [Iowa] John Andreoli singled, walked twice, and stole his 30th base.
  • [Tennessee] Ryan Williams had another efficient game. Over 6 scoreless innings he allowed just 4 hits while striking out 2, and he needed only 70 pitches to do it.
  • [Tennessee] Albert Almora stayed hot with a 2 for 4 game that featured a double and his 4th triple of the season.
  • [Tennessee] Ryan Dent, Willson Contreras, and Dan Vogelbach all also had 2 hit games.
  • [Tennessee] Jeimer Candelario doubled for his one hit, but he also walked twice.
  • [South Bend] Jeffrey Baez finished 2 for 5 with a home run (his 9th) that just happened to be a grand slam.
  • [South Bend] Gioskar Amaya doubled twice and finished with 2 hits. Ian Happ (2 for 5) and Charcer Burks (3 for 5) also doubled. Burks stole his 28th base of the year.
  • [South Bend] Trevor Clifton allowed a run on 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 over 6 innings on the mound.

Other News

  • With yesterday’s win, Iowa pulled to within three games of Oklahoma City. They stay in Oklahoma City for much of the week, so it remains possible that they can claim first place if they just keep winning. The season ends soon after the weekend, though, so this is just about their last chance.

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