The San Diego Padres prospect pool was deep a few years ago.
It seemed as though the Padres had dozens of relevant prospects all but certain to make their mark in Major League Baseball.
Time turned out to be rough on some men who never made it out of the lower levels of the minors. The Padres were wise to move on from some players while their value was high, while others’ worth is yet to be determined. That is the nature of baseball and why most consider prospects just that. Prospects.
Michel Baez certainly falls under the yet-to-be-determined category, as the potential is there for the right-handed pitcher. Before the 2018 season, Baez was a top-100 prospect and was ranked as high as 28th overall by Baseball America. Baez was coming off a year where he struck out 82 batters in 58.2 innings pitched while only allowing eight walks for the Fort Wayne TinCaps.
The Padres were loaded with starting pitching prospects then, and the Cuban right-hander was one of the best in the system.
Michel Baez made his major league debut to mixed reviews, recording a 3.03 ERA in 2019. The Cuban pitcher tossed 29.2 innings that season and struck out 28 batters, showing a lively fastball from his large frame. The secondary deliveries were not as consistent as most thought, and Baez struggled to remain a starting pitcher moving forward.
The Covid season of 2020 crippled his confidence as Baez went up and down between the major league team and the showcase team that played minimally in the shortened year. Tommy John surgery followed in 2021, and now Baez is battling for a roster spot and a chance to experience major league life again.
Last year, the lanky pitcher made his debut from Tommy John at the Single-A level and quickly progressed to the San Antonio Missions of the Texas League. Baez pitched well there, putting up a 2.41 ERA in 13 games for the Missions. In El Paso, the right-handed pitcher struggled, recording an 8.86 ERA in 24 games.
He lost his command, walking 18 batters in 21 innings pitched for El Paso. The power fastball still played for Baez as he struck out 24 batters. Pitching in the PCL is not easy, and most overlook the high ERA in the notorious hitter’s league.
There is no doubt the arm is capable. The 27-year-old is in a pivotal year for his baseball career, though. Starting is probably out of the question for the 6-foot-8 pitcher, but there is no reason why he cannot enjoy success at the major league level as a high-leverage reliever. His command will need to be on point. He must present his velocity in the mid-to-upper 90s to enjoy success against major league hitters.
In a successful major league season, there are several factors. You must have depth. The Padres have several men capable on the pitching staff throughout their system. Michel Baez may not make the team out of the spring. He may struggle in El Paso to begin the season. But, at some point in the year, the Padres will need his services. The large pitcher knows what it is like to be hungry. He knows what it is like to have an injury and come back from the beginning again. You bet on people like that. He is motivated.
If given an opportunity, Michel Baez could turn some heads this summer. Health permitting, the 2023 season should be very productive for this pitcher.
James was born and raised in America’s Finest City. He is a passionate baseball fan with even more passion towards his hometown Padres. Editor-In-Chief of EastVillageTimes.com. Always striving to bring you the highest quality in San Diego Sports News. Original content, with original ideas, that’s our motto. Enjoy.