Yes, I’m being a bit outlandish with the blog title, but the past couple days have been exhilarating. Two fun wins for sure, of course wins in spring training games mean nothing. It’s this kid, this recently turned 20 year old shortstop with the lightning quick bat that has me daring to dream a little.
Javier Baez power display over the past two days has not been seen at Hohokam since the days of Sammy Sosa. It’s not just the four home runs in two games, or that he hit those four in five at-bats, or that he did it in a total of seven pitches. It was the distance that two of the four traveled, one in the hood of 430 feet, the other 475, perhaps near 500, it’s exact landing spot unknown after it cleared the scoreboard and headed out of Hohokam Stadium. I know, I know, the names Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Gary Scott, Kevin Orie, and Bobby Hill, it seems the list go’s on and on. All at one time or another the next Cubs big thing that fizzled like one of North Korea’s much hyped multi-stage rocket’s.
I spent time up close watching all those Cubs prospects at spring training, and I can tell you this Baez kid is different. Sure, he’s still a ways away from Wrigley, and will head to minor league camp in a few days, but he has that hard to define “it” factor. A certain swagger or confidence to go with his tremendous physical talents.
Baez’s confidence is more quiet, than boisterous. More, “I know I can do this” than Bobby Hill’s look at me posing. Heck, any kid who puts a MLB logo tattoo on the back of his neck like Baez has, expects to be get to the show. However, there is something in Baez that I never saw in the other players I mentioned, and it’s not just the MLB tatt.
There is still work to do, Baez minor league walk ratio is not in line with the Theo Epstein Cubs Way hitting philosophy. That’s part of why they won’t rush him to Wrigley. The Cubs are preaching to their young players, work on your weaknesses on the way up.
I don’t believe it’s a matter of will Baez make it, but rather how good he will be when he gets there? Only time will tell, but 10 or 15 years from now I hope to be telling the story of being at Hohokam Park for the two games when Javy hit four home runs on 7 pitches. The moment when I just knew he was going to be a star.
Hey, I’m a Cubs and I’ll dream if I want to!
Baez wasn’t the only player to go yard today as you likely saw on WGN. Here are the photos of today’s long bombs in the Cubs 8-3 victory over the Royals. As always, great work by John Antonoff with today’s photos.