Prospect Notes: Baez, Bryant, Blackburn, Almora (OK, Mostly Baez)

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Prospect Notes: Baez, Bryant, Blackburn, Almora (OK, Mostly Baez)

Chicago Cubs

javier baez aflIn addition to this morning’s prospect injury update, and usual excellent prospect recapping, there are some additional notes aplenty …

  • Javier Baez, who has strung together a few nice games in a row – not quite a full-on hot streak or anything, but a tease of niceness – was highlighted prominently in this morning’s prospect feature at Baseball Prospectus. Given his early-season struggles, as you can imagine, the highlighting wasn’t all that pretty. Here’s a portion of what Jason Parks had to say, “Baez is an extremely reactionary, see-ball/hit-ball hitter, the type who looks to attack and drive fastballs out of the park and struggles to make adjustments to off-speed offerings. These approach tendencies have been magnified this year by a larger dose of quality secondary stuff, and when Baez takes the bait and loses the count, his OPS is 500 points lower than it is when he can work himself into more friendly fastball situations. Another twist in this developmental tale is Baez’s extreme day/night splits, as the high-ceiling slugger has a sub-.200 slugging percentage under the artificial lights, with a batting average that has now dropped below the .100 mark. If vision is the culprit, and Baez is struggling to locate and diagnose the ball early out of the pitcher’s hand, this could present a terminal developmental outcome when paired with existing approach concerns.”
  • Parks goes on to note that the day/night thing is speculative, and he remains optimistic. But, yeah, it’s a dialog worth having, even if the sample size is tiny. Before going too nuts on the day/night thing, I would point out that last year, when Baez was destroying AA, virtually every game he played was at night. I followed up with Parks on the latter point, and here are his thoughts, which evolved into a broader dialog about Baez:

  • So, there you go. Parks isn’t just pulling this stuff out of nowhere, but he’s also not proclaiming that Baez is effed because of night-time vision problems. We’re not there yet. At all. It was just a really, really striking split, and, since vision issues can be noticeable at night under artificial lights, it’s the kind of split that can have meaning. So Parks started the conversation. And now we observe what happens.
  • On Baez’s struggles, GM Jed Hoyer suggested there could have been a tiny bit of initial let down, coming off of a Spring Training high, but we’re past that point now (CSN). Hoyer believes Baez will have to work his way through the slump and adjust (maybe he is already), and he’ll be better for the struggles in the long-term.
  • Kris Bryant’s numbers at AA look great so far, but Hoyer says the Cubs haven’t discussed promoting him to AAA yet. ( It almost sounds like the Cubs are hoping that Bryant goes through a “down” period at AA, and then comes back, before they talk about promoting him. Obviously that might not happen, but there is value in struggling, learning to adjust, and then successfully adjusting. Of course, you’ve first got to find a level at which the young man is going to struggle.
  • Jesse Rogers spoke to Bryant a little bit about his early-season success, and the adjustments he’s had to make.
  • Mauricio Rubio at BP looked at Paul Blackburn at Kane County this week, and he sees mid-rotation upside, but not necessarily a front-end future. Even if Rubio wasn’t overwhelmed by the stuff, it does sound like he came away impressed by the control and command.
  • UPDATE: Albert Almora just singled, marking his sixth straight game with at least two hits. Schwing.

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.