The 2021 MLB Draft will begin on July 11. Today, we look at Joshua Baez, a tall, powerful outfielder out of Dexter Southfield High School in Brookline, MA. Baez will look to be one of many high school prospects selected in the first-round.
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Joshua Baez, Outfield, Dexter Southfield High School
Weight: 220 lbs.
2019-20 Stats: .423, 25 R, 18 RBI*
*Named Gatorade Massachusetts Baseball Player of the Year
2019 MVP, Perfect Game Tournament: 1.000 OBP, 2 HR
The 26th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, Baez will look to become the first Massachusetts-born prep player selected in the first three rounds since 2017. Baez is a Vanderbilt commit who eats, sleeps, and lives baseball. He is always looking to improve his body and his game. At such a young age, he already has some of the best raw talent in this draft. As a high school senior, Baez was clocking 97mph on the mound. However, he is not a pitcher, and that just speaks to his athleticism and god-given talent. The kid can flat-out play. Let’s take a deeper look into Baez as a player.
If you can’t tell by his massive size, Baez brings the juice when he connects with the ball. His excellent bat speed and natural loft allow him to drive balls deep into the bleachers on any given pitch. His well-timed leg kick and powerful load-up gives him that extra jolt to turn line drives and high fly balls into home runs. While his style of play at the dish can lead to a lot of strikeouts, he does a good job keeping his swing very smooth and without any real alarming hitch.
Not only does he have the potential to be a great hitter at the pro level, but he also has a very natural fluidity when playing the field. He played mostly center field during his high school career, but he will most likely move to a corner outfield spot in his next stop. Usually when one is as strong as Baez is with a bat, your arm in the field is just as strong. That is exactly the case when it comes to him. When a guy is throwing 97 MPH gas before he hits his 20s, he must have a damn good arm.
Baez is a flat-out amazing athlete for his age. His maturity when it comes to all phases of the game is something that will help him get drafted into the first-round. He is tall, strong, fast, and has that natural ballplayer instinct to be a great asset at the next level.
As mentioned above, his aggressive style at the plate will cause a lot of empty swings. He rarely offers at bad pitches and has a great eye at the plate. However, he will occasionally get power-happy and try to knock the moon out of orbit with every swing. With his natural strength, Baez will need to learn patience and to trust that the power will come if he just sits back and barrels up the ball.
Like every prep player, Baez needs work on the mechanics. This is not a knock, as even major league players need adjustments throughout their careers. Baez has major league stuff with a bat in his hands at age 17 which is remarkable in its own right. If you threw him to a major league pitcher right now, he would fail, and at this stage in his young career, that’s fine. While he will most likely fall to the latter end of the first-round, Baez has the potential to be the best draft pick in this class. With a little extra seasoning, he should be a constant in a major league lineup very soon.
Pro Comparison: Giancarlo Stanton
He is from that same mold. Both are tall, strong, athletic, and will put any pitch into the stratosphere. Again, it is hard to put that kind of expectation on a 17-year-old, but they have a very similar style of game. Both are great hitters who will swing-and-miss when they get too aggressive, and they are also both above-average fielders. If Baez can put all his tools together, he can easily live up to the hype, and even be better than his pro comparison.
Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 24, Atlanta Braves
Could you imagine an outfield of Ronald Acuna Jr., Cristian Pache, and Baez assuming that Pache and Baez pan-out as prospects? While it may not be a position that the Braves are dying for, you cannot let a talent like his slip any further. With the Braves’ great player development department, this might be the perfect scenario for a prospect like Baez.
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Main Image Credit: John Tlumacki, Boston Globe Staff