Every organization in Major League Baseball has a plan in place. This special blueprint involves everything from how they will run their current team to how they will develop their young talent for the future. That said, no team has the same exact plan, but all have the same goal: win championships. While the Chicago Cubs goal has always been the same, their plan went in an entirely different direction in 2011 when they brought on former Boston Red Sox GM, Theo Epstein, to be their President of Baseball Operations.
With the addition of Epstein came a focus on building a future through drafting and developing players, which is the way the best organizations in the game stay on top year after year. After not having a winning season since 2009, Epstein and Co. decided it was time to put their plan in motion, promoting several of the team’s top prospects over the course of 2014. The promotions not only gave fans something to be excited about, but also gave several of these young players a taste of the big leagues and an idea of what it will take for them to succeed at the next level. One of these youngsters who will have a lot to prove moving forward is former top prospect, Javy Baez, whose 2014 big league struggles concerned Cubs Faithful. 2015 will be a big year for him, as he will look to put the doubters to rest.
After selecting him with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, everyone was counting down the days until Baez would make his professional debut. The talented young shortstop has a box full of plus tools, which makes him one of the most intriguing young players in the game. His raw athleticism gives him the ability to play multiple positions, other than his natural shortstop position, and the extraordinary power he possesses resembles something one would see in a comic book. After hitting seven of his nine home runs during his inaugural month, including a game-winning, opposite field blast in his first game against the Colorado Rockies, everyone was starting to see what this young man is capable of.
All positives aside, the scoop on Baez, his kryptonite if you will, is the fact that he has always lacked in the plate discipline department. He has struggled with this area at every level, but was put on blast in 2014 when big league pitchers exposed his holes to the tune of 95 strikeouts in 213 at bats. There were times where it looked as if he decided he was swinging before the pitcher knew what pitch he was going to throw. Part of the game of baseball is the ability to adjust, and he will clearly need to make a rather large adjustment if he wants to succeed and be part of all the greatness the team has in store. Hitting .169 and having an OPS in the mid-.500’s will not cut it.
No matter what the struggles have been, 2015 is a new year, and Baez will get plenty of opportunities to show everyone what he is capable of during his first, full professional season. He will be an everyday fixture in the line-up, playing either middle infield position, and will try to use his gifts to help this Cubs team to a winning record and more in both 2015 and the future. The topic of maturity comes up often when discussing his issues of plate discipline, but hopefully they are things he can come to terms with and build upon moving forward. People often forget how young he is, as he just celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, so being patient with him is necessary at this delicate time of his career. The overall message when it come to Baez: great things take time.