SAN DIEGO — What’s wrong with Javier Baez? And when are the Cubs going to call him up?
Relax. For all the anxiety surrounding his slow start, Baez is now heating up at Triple-A Iowa, showing why he’s Baseball America’s No. 5 overall prospect.
“He’s starting to lock in at the plate,” farm director Jaron Madison said Thursday at Petco Park. “He’s starting to really buy into what he has to do as a hitter, and it’s all going to click pretty soon.”
Baez pulled his average above .200 with a 4-for-5 night, generating two doubles, a homer and two RBIs in a 7-2 win over Round Rock. He extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 12-for-28 during that stretch, reinforcing the belief this is a learning experience for a 21-year-old in the Pacific Coast League.
Madison dismissed one Internet rumor about Baez, saying there are no vision issues. The numbers looked different between day games (.735 OPS) and night games (.500 OPS), and Baez struck out 50 times through his first 129 at-bats.
But the Cubs already gave Baez an eye exam, like they do with all their players in spring training.
“We did a full eye test with him not too long ago, and everything was fine,” Madison said. “Last year, his splits were opposite. His night splits were better than the day splits.”
Last year, Baez piled up 37 homers and 111 RBIs in 130 games split between advanced Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, putting him on the fast track to Wrigley Field and making him a big story in spring training. Going to Des Moines had to be an emotional letdown, but the Cubs don’t want to hear that excuse anymore.
“It sounds like he’s kind of made some adjustments to his approach,” Madison said. “He’s just understanding how they’re going to pitch him. It’s just a maturity process for him because he’s young. When he’s up there, people know that he swings hard, so they’re going to try to throw him off-speed stuff and see if he can chase it.
“Now he’s starting to learn: Let those pitches go, get something to hit. And it’ll start clicking for him now.”