Baez Drops Bombs In Chattanooga
Javier Baez is a beast. How’s that for scouting? Seriously, seeing him punish baseballs in Chattanooga last Sunday reminded me of scouting Xander Bogaerts, Yasiel Puig and other impact prospects with the bat. Baez’ power was not quite Stanton-like, but plus power from the shortstop position is a rarity. Baez is a physical player who used uncanny brute force for his size. Four at bats resulted in three lasers including a double down the left field line and towering home run to left-centerfield.
And while I expected to see the bat, Baez’ glove was even more surprising. At shortstop, he had fluid motions and plenty of arm strength for the position. Is he going to range deep in either hole to make highlight reel plays? Probably not, but a shortstop who is able to field everything in front of him and make the routine throws has value – especially when it’s a 25-plus home run bat. If one can view Bogaerts as a legitimate shortstop at the Major League level, then Baez deserves the benefit of the doubt too.
I know prospect followers freaked when Baez struggled out of the gate, but he consider the ship righted. Yes, the strikeouts are high, but I trust they’ll come down once Baez tweaks his set up a bit. Everything he does in the batter’s box is loud, and Baez will eventually learn to quiet timing mechanisms while maintaining bat speed.
Back in 2011, I wrote about Bryce Harper having a long swing plane, but that it didn’t really matter because his bat speed was so special. Baez has me thinking along the same lines. In game action, Baez’ swing appears long – especially in the back, but I don’t think it will matter much. The power will play.
In dynasty formats, Baez is a bat to build around. The home runs and run production will be there and he’ll be elite if he can maintain a batting average of .270 or higher. The downside is if Baez can’t contain the strikeouts, his batting average will wane. This would result in a triple slash line similar to JJ Hardy.
I also came away impressed with Arismendy Alcantara (again). At second base, he showed plus range for the position and appeared comfortable with the position switch. Throughout the game, Alcantara’s physical appearance reminded me of Michael Bourn. At the Major League level, I trust Alcantara will hit with enough power to push double-digit home runs while contributing 20-30 stolen bases, or more. An above average regular is definitely a possibility.
For fantasy purposes, Alcantara will be a player to target as he approaches a call up. Like Jonathan Villar, Wilmer Flores or Chris Owings who I’ve discussed acquiring in previous newsletters, Alcantara is solid prospect who’ll gain value as a promotion becomes more likely. This can be said about any prospect, but remember it’s a risk-vs.-reward venture.
A player like Byron Buxton is worth owning from day one because the reward is great enough to use a roster spot and wait for multiple years. Alcantara is not this type of player. In his case, it’s time to buy when the risk of his being a big leaguer is nil because the reward is limited. Right now, I wouldn’t spend a roster spot on Alcantara to stash him through the off-season.
3 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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