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May 19, 2014

Monday Morning Ten Pack

May 19, 2014

by Jason Parks and BP Prospect Staff


The Monday Morning Ten Pack is brought to you by Sidsgraphs.com. SidsGraphs specializes in memorabilia and game-used items from baseball's top prospects! Visit Sidsgraphs.com today or visit their retail store in the south suburbs of Chicago.

***

Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (Triple-A Iowa)
After a dominating run across two levels in 2013, Baez was a darling of the offseason prospect hype machine, and when he arrived in camp this spring and continued the onslaught I agreed to name all offspring I might create in the future after him. But 2014 hasn’t gone as planned for the 21-year-old, and we are nearing the point in the season where the sample size is significant enough to validate the concerns about his offensive struggles. As previously documented, 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. It’s still early in the season, and the realities of the vision issues are still more speculative than anything else, but we are nearing the point where concerns can solidify and realistic outcomes can start to be questioned. I’m still blinded by his bat speed and therefore optimistic that his future will be abnormal and franchise altering. But the neurological aspects of his struggles are trying to pull me off the Baez bus with each passing day. –Jason Parks

Eddie Butler, RHP, Rockies (Double-A Tulsa)
On nights when I feel lonely and down, I dim the lights, make a delicious cocktail, and watch Eddie Butler’s performance from the 2013 Futures Game in order to return a smile to my face. It was the nastiest of the nasty, and his stock soared as a result, placing him just outside the top 25 prospects in the minor leagues heading into the 2014 season. With only six Double-A starts on his professional resume, the 23-year-old righty returned to Tulsa to start the year, and despite some statistical setbacks as a result of specific developmental focuses his stock remains on the same vaulted plane. With his deadly cutter in his back pocket, Butler has been focusing on pounding the lower zone with both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs and introducing a new curveball into the mix. The former are necessities in the unfriendly confines of his future home park, while the latter only goes to deepen the arsenal and provide a change-of-pace pitch to his often velocity-heavy arsenal.

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13 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

dcapofari

Were Baez's day/night splits bad last year as well?

May 19, 2014 08:57 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

Not at all. He did serious damage at night.

May 19, 2014 09:23 AM
 
amazin_mess

Ok...I am officially very worried about Baez now. Damn...

May 19, 2014 09:11 AM
rating: 0
 
Buford

Granted Baez has incredible bat speed, but can you share your thoughts why you believe he could improve his plate discipline which has never been very good and hit rock bottom this year?

Also, are there a number of examples of "see-ball hit-ball" power hitters who severely lacked plate discipline and later acquired it to become franchise-altering players? The only name that comes to my mind is Sammy Sosa.

Since some believe that plate discipline is a "you're born with it or not" trait, I would love an article on this topic.

As for Baez, it seems like he's the guy with the fastest car in the crowd but he can't distinguish between a red light and a green light - a wreck waiting to happen. And if this problem is even worse when the sun goes down well …

May 19, 2014 09:11 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I think that approach [as a whole] is something that is a learned skill, but one of the aspects of approach is early recognition ability, which is a neurological function with limitations beyond his control. I think Baez could curb some of his aggressiveness at the plate--at least when it comes to trying to yank everything out of the park, regardless of pitch or location. This can be learned. I think he is more likely to learn it now than in previous seasons because his success will depend on such an adjustment. In the past, he could damage poor pitching without much adjustment, which is why Triple-A is a great test for him. If he fails to adjust or refine his approach, he is likely to fail. That should be enough motivation for him. He wasn't backed up against a wall like this before. He is likely to always struggle with pitch recognition, but he can do himself a favor by refining his overall approach (something he can actually control) in order put himself in more favorable conditions and take advantage of opportunities. If he continues to crank and yank, he will be an easy mark at the highest level of the game, and likely to bust.

Sosa is a great example. Not a lot of baseball feel and hitability, but tons of strength at the point of extension and a good guesser.

May 19, 2014 09:34 AM
 
eastgate

Details, details…

I believe that Portland is the Red Sox AA affiliate (Pawtucket is AAA).

May 19, 2014 09:31 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I just spoke with a trusted industry source that confirms Baez's eyes [both] tested at 20/15 this spring training, and he also scored well in depth perception tests. This should quell some of the vision-specific concerns, but the approach issues remain very legit, and could end up preventing him from reaching his glory. Let's see what adjustments he makes in the coming months. Should be very interesting.

May 19, 2014 12:40 PM
 
Schere

What do you think an average MLB's hitter's vision is? Probably better than 20/20 I imagine?

May 19, 2014 13:25 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I'm not sure. More to hitting than just straight-ahead vision. Other neurological factors involved. Would be something worth exploring in more detail, though.

May 19, 2014 13:29 PM
 
JosephOrnelas

I have this sense that Cub fans, Mr. Parks and most of all Mr. Baez need to take a deep breath. Baez might be panicking and digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole as the month of May has gone on. A month long slump and we are questioning a prospect's eyesight? Really? Life if not baseball teaches you that some times deep slumps get deeper the harder you try to dig yourself out of them. What with the constant speculation on how a player of Mr. Baez' evident gifts can be rendered irrelevant in the space of less than a month points more to the power of self deception than it raises doubts about Javier Baez' future. I for one, am not jumping ship and still believe he will eventually turn it around.

May 19, 2014 14:05 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

I suggest reading the capsule again. I'm not jumping the ship. But its important to look at what is happening with a player, why it is happening, and what can be done about. This is what we do for a living. We can't all take wait and see approaches because its our job to document what is happening in between times of struggle and times of success. It's quite common for prospects to fail because of vision issues; hell, it happens at the major league level as well. So even though it was based on a small sample (which was mentioned), the odd day/night splits were worth mentioning given his struggles, even if just speculation. The approach is his biggest enemy, and I've been saying that since he first signed. I've also been high on him since he signed.

May 19, 2014 14:14 PM
 
LynchMob

Thanks for the Franchy and Rymer updates!

May 19, 2014 14:38 PM
rating: 0
 
Buford

I'm not sure how this helps Baez' plate discipline, but in his first at-bat tonight, he eliminated all of his pre-swing bat waggle plus his bat has a more conventional setup position as it points toward the left side of the infield rather than wrapped around his head pointing at the pitcher.

May 19, 2014 17:22 PM
rating: 1
 
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