Posts Tagged ‘Javier Baez’

Prospect Report: The Promoted

Friday, July 12th, 2013

For the rest of the season, Norm and I are likely going to veer away from the hot/not format a good bit, in large part because we’ve already hit on everyone interesting and we’ve gotten well into repeat territory on that front. On that note, we’re in the middle of the period of the season where we see a lot of promotions within the system. Below I am going to look at several players who were promoted since the middle of June. While we will ignore their numbers since promotion (too small of a sample size to be meaningful), we will look at their numbers in their prior level and attempt to determine if the move was made too soon, should have been made sooner, or the time was just right.

Javier Baez (SS, Age 20)
Assigned from High A Daytona to Double A Tennessee on June 28
High A Stats: 337 PAs, .274/.338/.535, 17 HRs, .310 BABIP, 6.2% BB rate, 23.1% K rate
Timing: Too early

Baez likely reestablished himself as the Cubs’ top prospect in June, but without one huge game and Jorge Soler getting hurt, it’s unclear if that would be the case. Baez’s walk rate (8.9%) and strikeout rate (19.8%) were significantly improved in June. This is particularly true in comparison to Baez’s April, where he only put up a 3.6% walk rate to go along with a concerning 27.7% strikeout rate. The problem was this was just one month. And a lot of Baez’s massive slugging improvement in June was his huge 4 home run game. I would have liked to see Baez continue his progress for one more month before making the jump from High A to Double A, which is well known to be the most difficult aside from a promotion to the Majors.

John Andreoli (OF, Age 23)
Assigned from High A Daytona to Double A Tennessee on June 28
High A Stats: 303 PAs, .318/.394/.405, 0 HR, .400 BABIP, 11.2% BB rate, 18.8% K rate

Timing: Should have happened sooner

Andreoli has never been a big name prospect, but he spent all of 2012 and the first half of 2013 getting on base in 40% of his plate appearances in the Florida State League. He does not hit for any power, but clearly draws walks and steals bases (55 SBs in 75 attempts last season, 23 in 26 attempts this season). Andreoli’s lack of power limits his potential, and definitely could stall out at the higher levels of the minors where better defenses will limit his BABIP somewhat. But the walks, speed and ability to play all over the outfield mean he could be a solid bench option. However, one of his best skills, the speed, is often one of the first things to leave a player as he ages. Andreoli is not going to add power, so there was no reason not to see if his combination of speed and patience could have succeeded at Double A a little earlier.

Pierce Johnson (RHP, Age 22)
Assigned from Low A Kane County to High A Daytona on June 20
Low A Stats: 13 GS, 69.2 IPs, 3.10 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 9.56 K/9, 2.84 BB/9
Timing: Should have happened sooner

Had we been told when the season started that Arodys Vizcaino would not pitch in a real game all season, no one would have been surprised to see Pierce Johnson establish himself as the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, which he quickly did. The problem was that he just wasn’t challenged at Low A, and no one should have expected him to be challenged at Low A. At the very back end of being 21 and at age 22, Johnson should be dominating a league where the majority of good players are the age of college sophomores. No one learned anything about Johnson from him striking out a bunch of 20 year olds. He would have been better off starting the season at High A, or at most getting a half dozen starts to get his feet wet in full season professional baseball at Kane County before being bumped up the ladder.

 

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Three Up, Three Down: Baez Heats Up Edition

Friday, June 14th, 2013

THREE UP

All Stats Through Wednesday, June 12

Javier Baez, SS
Age 20, High A
Season Stats:
 59 G, 262 PAs, .285/.340/.557, 5.3% BB rate, 22.9% K rate, 17 2B, 4 3B, 13 HR
June Stats: 
10 G, 42 PAs, .429/.524/1.000, 11.9% BB rate, 11.9% K rate, 5 2B, 5 HR

Ttwo weeks ago I came here and said that Jorge Soler had surpassed Javier Baez for the top prospect in the Cubs system. While Baez had shown some improvement in his strikeout rate from April to May (27.6% K rate in April compared to 22.0% in May), Baez has either been on an incredible hot streak in June or has improved his plate discipline. Now, the utterly insane slugging percentage is a result of his 4 for 4, 4 home run June 10th, but Baez has walked as much in the first 13 days of June as he did all May while being on pace for the lowest strikeout month of his professional career. Baez’s biggest challenge at this point may be that no one in the FSL is willing to challenge him in the zone. A month and a half ago Baez was a big concern. Now he looks pretty likely to get some significant time in Double A this year, and may have reclaimed that number one prospect in the system spot. If Baez keeps hitting and drawing walks while limiting the strikeouts, he’ll be in competition for the number one prospect in baseball this offseason.

Albert Almora, CF
Age 19, Low A
18 G, 82 PAs, .413/.451/.547
6.1% BB rate, 13.4% K rate, .469 BABIP
7 2B, 2 SB, 3 CS

Albert Almora’s full season debut was delayed by a hamate bone injury, but the Cubs’ top pick from 2012 sure looks worth the wait by getting on base in 45% of his first 82 plate appearances. He has not shown home run power yet, but most view him as a guy with an advanced approach who will grow into 20 home run power. Despite the fact that he has not hit a home run to this point, Almora has tallied seven doubles. I also am not  concerned about the stolen base numbers. First, small sample size. Second, Almora had a minor hamstring tweak that caused him to miss a couple of games, which might be impacting his base stealing. Almora has done nothing to hurt his already very high stock, and is pretty likely to move up to Daytona by the end of July.

Chadd Krist, C
Age 23, High A
Low A Stats: 12 G, 48 PAs, .263/.417/.316, 16.7% BB rate, 14.6% K rate
High A Stats: 23 G, 93 PAs, .269/.387/.385, 14.0% BB rate, 18.3% K rate

One of the weak spots in the Cubs’ system has been catcher, with the Cubs both lacking depth and high ceiling talent. But Krist, the Cubs’ ninth round pick in 2012, has been a nice surprise. He has not hit for much power, but has shown a gift for getting on base. Krist is also reportedly solid defensively. The lack of power limits his ceiling, but a good defensive backstop who can get on base has real value.

THREE DOWN

Trey McNutt, RHP
Age 23, Double A
22 G, 26.1 IP, 4.44 ERA
7.18 K/9, 4.44 BB/9, 4.19 FIP

In 2010, McNutt shot through the Cubs’ minor league system from Low A to Double. He dominated at Peoria and Daytona, and was solid in a brief stint in Tennessee as well. After the Cubs traded Chris Archer the next offseason, McNutt became the Cubs’ top pitching prospect. But McNutt never found the same strikeout numbers, never improved his control, and hasn’t been able to find a repeatable motion. Last season, the Cubs converted McNutt to a reliever, but he still hasn’t been able to increase the strikeouts. McNutt is all but a non-prospect these days, another disappointing former top prospect from the Hendry era.

Lendy Castillo, RHP
Age 24, Low A
12 G, 5 GS, 44.2 IP, 7.05 ERA
8.87 K/9, 4.03 BB/9, 4.81 FIP

If Castillo’s name looks familiar but you cannot quite place it, that is because he was the Cubs’ Rule 5 draft pick prior to the 2012 season. He spent a few months of the season up with the Cubs in between stints doing the DL dance. Unfortunately, Castillo has struggled at Kane County in a situation where I’m sure the Cubs hoped he would move quickly up the system. The strikeouts are there, but the problem is that the walk numbers are just too high. The FIP tells us he has likely pitched better than his ERA shows, but even if the ERA matched the FIP these numbers would be a disappointment. You just expect a lot better than a 4.81 ERA or FIP from a 24 year old in Low A.

Elliot Soto, SS
Age 23, Double A
31 G, 97 PAs, .145/.253/.169, .188 BABIP

Among those who follow the farm system, Soto had gained some popularity as a Chicago area native and someone who had many of Darwin Barney’s most beloved traits. He’s a fantastic fielder up the middle with a light bat, but based on all reports is one of those guys with 80 want. Unfortunately, Soto has both had too many legit prospects (Baez, Arismendy Alcantara) demanding regular playing time at shortstop, combined with the fact that his bat might be severely overmatched in the higher minors. He’s a guy who is hard not to root for, but might just not have enough to make it to the Show.

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