After having a good spring training season two years ago, Cubs fans expected big things from Javy Baez. Even though he was still too raw to come up last season, they clamored for the Cubs to call him up. This year, another good spring, another trip to the minors, this time to the Iowa Cubs.
Baez had a great season in two classes last year. In 76 games with Class-A Daytona, he hit .274 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. He also had a .535 slugging. After being promoted to Class-AA Tennessee, he did even better. In just 54 games. he hit .294, with 20 homers and 54 RBI, slugging .638.
After being sent down again this season, most expected Baez to just learn to play second base. The thought of a great second base/shortstop combo of Baez and Starlin Castro ran through fans’ minds.
Somewhere along the way, the wheels on Baez’s major league bus fell off. At Iowa this season, he has struggled mightily. He is hitting .153 so far, and has the highest strikeout rate in the league. Last season he had a rate of one strikeout per 3.9 plate appearances. This season that rate is one per 2.75.
“The biggest thing is he’s pressing a little bit, trying to do too much,” said Cubs farm director Jaron Madison.
The season did not get off to a good start when Baez got into an altercation with a teammate in the dugout three games into the season, and it has gotten worse since then.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria thinks these struggles can ultimately be good for Baez. “It’s really important for his development because now he’s got to have patience. Believe it or not, those are positive things for us at this point. Patience is one of the things he’s going to have to have.”
Fans have to keep in mind that Baez is still a kid. He is just 21 years old, the youngest player in AAA. I understand that the fans are an impatient bunch, and rightfully so. The best thing for him and the team, however, is to show patience. He has a ton of talent, but he still has to put it together against better pitching before he can prove he is ready for the show.
As Madison said, “He’s an exciting player. “We have a lot of exciting players who are close to the big-league level but still have to prove to themselves and to us they’re ready to face big-league pitchers day in and day out.”