After holding opposing hitters to a measly .130 average through his first four starts and striking out 8 or more in three of those games, Michel Baez had seemingly little left to prove at Fort Wayne, and last night’s record breaking performance only further highlighted the notion that he’s ready for a promotion.
Over 6.2 innings of one run ball, Baez struck out fourteen batters, the highest recorded total at Parkview Field for a TinCaps pitcher. Yet, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Baez’ dominance was how he fared against Jose Siri, who entered the night tied for the longest hitting streak in Midwest League history. The two squared off three times and Baez proceed to strike in every single one of those matchups. (Siri did later break the record, but it wasn’t until after Baez exited the game.)
In speaking with Chris Goff of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Manager Anthony Contreras attributed that outcome to Baez and Catcher A.J. Kennedy making a keen observation early in the game, saying, “Once they figured out how to get (Siri), they stayed with the curve ball and threw it down in the dirt, and he kept chasing it.” Brett Rump of ESPN Fort Wayne shared a glimpse of one of those curveballs on his twitter:
— Brett R Rump (@BrettRumpSports) July 31, 2017
It’s always impressive to see a pitcher stifle a streaking hitter like this, but considering most of Baez dominance has been because of his searing fastball, it was encouraging that one of his secondary pitches was a focal point of his attack. After all, Baez needs to be forced by the competition to use his secondary pitches to fully benefit from his time in Single-A should the organization decide to keep him here; although, as I wrote last week and as many of you have speculated, Baez is likely to be promoted to High-A Lake Elsinore soon.
Fangraphs’ prospect guru Eric Longenhagen offered some of the following commentary on Baez last week if you’re looking for a national scout’s evaluation:
- “He’s freakish in a few ways. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a player this size (he’s 6-8) who is also this athletic and able to throw strikes as consistently as Baez is right now.”
- It’s an 80 fastball right now. Upper-90s with extension.
- He also has breaking ball feel. Mostly he’s just blowing heat past guys right now, and I know he’s just debuting, so it feels like he’s a teenager but keep in mind we’re talking about a 21-year old at Low-A. I have him top 10 in a loaded system right now.
- As far as his overall projection? I’m not sure. I don’t have a mental checkpoint for an arm like this because I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
Anyways, Baez presently slated to make his next start this weekend when the TinCaps take on the Great Lakes Loons at Dow Diamond in Midland, Michigan, so we’ll work to keep you posted on any possible promotion.