Javier Baez is looking to follow in Arismendy Alcantara's footsteps again.
Alcantara crushed a homer into the upper deck in last year's Futures Game at New York’s Citi Field, putting himself on the map. Baez followed suit during the All-Star showcase on Sunday night in Minneapolis.
Baez deposited a breaking ball into Target Field’s right-field seats, beating Lucas Giolito, the Washington Nationals prospect who’s one of the top young arms in the game.
Alcantara beat Baez to Wrigley Field with a fantastic first half (.890 OPS) at Triple-A Iowa. But Baez is getting back on the fast track everyone saw before the season started.
After clubbing 37 homers between advanced Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last year, the assumption was Baez would continue to mash at Triple-A and earn a midseason call-up that would make him the first big prospect to hit the North Side in this rebuild.
It hasn't quite worked out that way, but that won’t stop Baez.
"I'd say I'm ready [for the big leagues],” Baez said. “I just gotta make my adjustments and keep hitting and swinging at strikes.”
That over-aggressiveness has been the knock on Baez.
With his Gary Sheffield bat speed, Baez can hit any pitch out at any time, which strikes fear into opposing pitchers. But swinging at pitches out of the zone also means he gets himself out sometimes, and he doesn't take many walks.
"Triple-A is different than Double-A," Baez said. "Over here, we got a lot of guys who know how to pitch to you, and they're going to make you chase until you learn how to not swing at that pitch.
"I'm still working on [pitch selection]. I'm getting better. I don't want to get to the plate and just look for a walk. I'm just trying to look for a good pitch to swing at and hit it hard."
Baez got off to a slow start with Iowa, hitting .215 with a .695 OPS through June 18, while walking only 15 times in 60 games.
But ever since Kris Bryant joined the Iowa lineup on June 19, Baez is hitting .303/.388/.506 (.894 OPS) with 13 walks in 24 games. Of course, that was also around the same time Manny Ramirez joined the team.
Baez credited both Bryant and Ramirez with helping him take strides at Triple-A, allowing him to feel more comfortable and protected in the lineup.
"They gotta pitch to one of us," Baez said.
Baez hopes to soon join forces with "Mendy" and Bryant at Wrigley Field.
All three players have emerged as a big part of the future, but Alcantara has only five big-league games under his belt, Bryant is less than a month into his Triple-A career and Baez is still just 21 years old.
Baez said he hasn't heard anything from Theo Epstein's front office about his timeline or a potential call-up to Chicago in the second half. But he's ready whenever the phone rings.
"I don't worry about that stuff," Baez said. "I'm just going to keep coming every day and doing my job and work hard every day."