Kris Bryant and Javier Baez wrapped up the first half of their Triple-A seasons Friday night in Iowa’s 7-4 victory over Oklahoma City, the I-Cubs 50th win of the season. Bryant went 0-for-2 with two walks and Baez was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
With the Triple-A All-Star Game Wednesday, Iowa has two games Saturday and one Sunday before the break, but Kris Bryant and Javier Baez will be on center stage Sunday at Target Field in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Kris Bryant is expected to be the starting third baseman for the U.S. Team and Javier Baez is expected to be the starting shortstop for the World Team.
The top two prospects in the Cubs system had different starts to their season. While Bryant lit up Double-A pitching and was promoted to Triple-A, Baez spent the first half of his season learning and making adjustments to more advanced pitching.
Kris Bryant has moved quickly through the Cubs’ system. And in less than a year after playing his first game in pro ball he is already in Triple-A knocking on the door to the majors.
Bryant ripped up the Southern League and hit .355/.458/.702 with 20 doubles and 22 home runs in 68 games with a 1.160 OPS. Bryant won the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game and was promoted to Iowa after participating in the All-Star Game.
Kris Bryant is tied with the Rangers’ Joey Gallo, who is also participating in the Futures Game, for the most home runs in the minors (31) and both of the sluggers from Las Vegas are on pace to hit 50 home runs this season. If either Bryant or Gallo reach the 50 home run mark it will be the first time a minor leaguer hit 50 dingers in a single season since Ron Kittle in 1982.
In 24 games with the I-Cubs, Bryant is hitting .322/.404/.701 with six doubles, nine home runs, 12 walks and 30 strikeouts for a 1.105 OPS. Against right handers in Triple-A, Bryant has hit .355/.437/.806 with four doubles, eight home runs, nine walks, 20 strikeouts and a 1.243 OPS. But he has struggled against lefties and has managed a .240/.321/.44o line in 25 at bats with two doubles and a home run.
In 92 games between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Bryant has put together a .346/.444/.701 line with 26 doubles, 31 home runs, 81 RBI, 235 total bases and a 1.146 OPS.
Kris Bryant has improvements to make in the field and works on his defense at third on a regular basis. Bryant realizes he has to cut down on the strikeouts and he has been working on his pitch recognition and getting into better hitters counts.
After a rough start to his season (.172/.238/.379 in April), Javier Baez began adjusting in May and his .250/.303/.435 with eight doubles, four home runs and a .738 OPS. Baez showed more improvement at the plate in June. In 28 games, Baez hit .275/.345/.471 with six doubles, a triple, four home runs and a .815 OPS. Baez walked 11 times in 102 at bats with 34 strikeouts.
Baez is riding a 13-game hitting streak going into the Futures Game and while his .227/.300/.523 line in July (12 games) does not look very good, he has been working counts. Baez has walked five times with 13 strikeouts over his last 12 games.
Against left handed pitching, Baez is hitting .253/.287/.494 with four doubles, a triple, five home runs and a .781 OPS with five walks and 30 strikeouts. Versus right handers, Baez has managed a .236/.311/.431 line with 15 doubles, a triple, nine home runs and a .742 OPS.
The split that really stands out, as was brought up earlier in the season by Jason Parks, Javier Baez is hitting .295/.340/.495 in 26 day games with five doubles, a triple, four home runs, six walks, 31 strikeouts and a .834 OPS. In night 58 night games, Baez is hitting only .217/.289/.429 with 14 doubles, a triple, 10 home runs and a .718 OPS.
In 84 games this year, Javier Baez hit .240/.305/.449 with 19 doubles, two triples, 14 home runs, 28 walks, 110 strikeouts and a .753 OPS.
Javier Baez has work to do both at the plate and in the field. Baez has not played a game at any other position besides shortstop, but he has been taking grounders and working out at second base before games.