VIERA, Fla.—If 21-year-old righthander Joan Baez heads back to low Class A Hagerstown to start this season, he’ll have the chance to build on his successes and his failures.
Baez, a 6-foot-3 Dominican who signed for $7,500 in April 2014, has hit triple-digits on the radar gun. He impressed enough at extended spring training last year to earn a promotion to Hagerstown in June.
In Baez’s South Atlantic League debut, he pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings. In the two starts after that high point came the low points. He gave up five runs (all earned) in five innings and then eight runs (all earned) in one inning. Then it was off to the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and short-season New York-Penn League for the rest of the summer.
“We challenged Joan last year in Hagerstown and Auburn after he pitched successfully during the first two months of the season in extended spring training,” farm director Mark Scialabba said. “In his first full season away from home, he dealt with some adversity and needed to make some adjustments to his delivery to get back on track.”
After being sent back to short-season Auburn, Baez continued to have a hard time repeating his mechanics. He eventually rallied in the GCL, where he was 1-3, 2.13 with 42 strikeouts in 42 innings before making two solid starts back at Auburn in September. In his return to the Doubledays, Baez was 2-0, 2.45 with 11 strikeouts in 11 innings.
Overall, Baez went 3-6, 4.73 with 65 strikeouts and 39 walks in 70 innings last season.
“He has a projectable frame with an electric arm that generates velocity in the mid- to upper-90s at times,” Scialabba said. “The command and action on his breaking ball (are making it) evolve as his second pitch, and he is beginning to make strides with the feel for his changeup.”
• After failed attempts to move to Fredericksburg, Va., and Spotsylvania, Va., the Hagerstown Suns are staying put with a two-year lease agreement in their Maryland city. The Herald-Mail reported that part of the Suns’ rent will go toward improvements at 86-year-old Municipal Stadium and that the club would like an even longer-term deal.