Javier Baez's Plate Discipline Might Be Improving and Other Bullets

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Javier Baez’s Plate Discipline Might Be Improving and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

javier baez aflWe call this a teaser: I’ve been working for a couple months to get something really special put together for this year’s Trade Deadline Blogathon, and, as of yesterday, it looks like it’s going to happen. I can’t wait to tell you about it at the end of this month. That’s why this is just a tease.

  • Ben Badler’s latest Prospect Notebook includes a long take on Javier Baez’s 2013 season so far. Baez’s strikeout issues have been well-discussed here, but Badler isn’t yet worried about them. “[S]ometimes the best way for an aggressive hitter like Baez to become a more disciplined hitter isn’t by having the organization mandate he start taking the first pitch or emphasizing walks,” Badler writes, in part. “Sometimes a young hitter just has to swing at bad pitches, then learn that those are the pitches he needs to lay off because he can’t do damage with that slider that dives off the plate or that tempting fastball above the strike zone. Some players never make the adjustment, but the talented ones learn from their mistakes. With Baez, the adjustments are already starting to come as a 20-year-old in high Class A Daytona.” Let’s hope so. Badler goes on to discuss Baez’s defense at shortstop, which has been another sore spot this year.
  • After striking out 42 times in his first 31 games this year, Baez has struck out just 16 times in his last 21 games. Still not great, but it’s obviously an improvement. He’s also increased his OPS from .735 to .840 over that stretch, so something may be clicking. Then again, he’s struck out 10 times in his last 9 games, so maybe there is just a natural ebb and flow …
  • The Cubs promoted an outfielder to AA Tennessee, but it wasn’t Jorge Soler or John Andreoli. It was Pin-Chieh Chen, a 21-year-old fringy outfield prospect with good plate discipline, but not much else so far. Chen comes straight up from Low-A, where he’d been performing poorly. Given his age, the big leap, and the performance, you can safely assume this is just the matter of a fill-in. The Smokies outfield already features Matt Szczur, Rubi Silva, Jae-Hoon Ha and Johermyn Chavez, though the latter two are on the disabled list. I wonder how much the timing is impacting things – the Cubs’ obvious focus right now is the Draft, and perhaps they don’t want to make an improvident promotion decision without having a good deal of time to analyze all of the ramifications.
  • Also promoted to AA Tennessee is lefty pitching prospect Austin Kirk, replacement Matt Loosen, who heads back down to High-A. Kirk was having only modest success in his second go-around at High-A – 4.50 ERA, 4.2 BB/9, 7.0 K/9 – but he just turned 23 and the Cubs likely want to see how he adjusts at AA (where he got a brief look last year).
  • Rehabbing catcher Steve Clevenger tells the Des Moines Register that he’s 100% recovered from his oblique strain.
  • Bruce Miles takes a look at the hits and misses of the Epstein/Hoyer era thus far.
  • I couldn’t help but notice that BN’er Oswego Chris’s book on the Cubs’ frustrating championship-less streak is on sale on Amazon (you can get the paperback for just $11.99, and the Kindle version for $5.99), and I thought you’d like to know. You can read an interview that I did with Chris last week here.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.