Joan Baez RHP Potomac Nationals
Future Grades Fastball (55) Curveball (35) Changeup (40)
Baez was signed by Washington in April 2014 as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic for only $7,500. Born in December 1994, the 22-year-old Baez is a projectable athlete listed at 6-3 190lbs, with room to add another 10-15lbs of muscle. Baez starts from the extreme left side of the rubber and utilizes a simple sidestep into a letter-high leg lift before going home. There is extraneous movement in his windup, which hinders his ability to repeat his delivery. Baez throws from a traditional 3/4s arm slot and is closed at foot strike, causing some natural deception to the hitter. However, this also hampers his control and command, which are presently below-average or worse. His arm swing is relatively smooth and there is little to medium effort involved in his motion.
Presently Baez possesses a 3-pitch repertoire, featuring a 91-93mph (touching 95mph) fastball, a mid-80s changeup and a 78-82mph curveball. He prioritizes keeping the fastball down in the zone and it has natural cutting movement. It also creates plenty of whiffs and could be a future “55” offering. His curveball is loopy and he struggles with both feel and commanding the pitch. He noticeably slows his body and arm to assist the torque of the pitch, which is easily seen by the hitter. At best the pitch is a “30” and there is little reason to think it improves without significant tinkering – He might benefit going to a slider. Finally his changeup is firm but thrown with reasonable arm speed. He uses it well against left-handed hitters to keep them honest, but he needs better control and feel for the changeup before it grades better than below-average.
Baez is a bit of a scouting conundrum, as his projectable body and impressive fastball make him an interesting prospect, yet his off-speed stuff makes steak tartare look well-done. His age and athleticism give some reason for optimism, but I worry Baez is a loose athlete with a good fastball and not enough else. Baez might be a “change of scenery” prospect who needs an organization that specializes teaching the curveball. If he can develop an off-speed offering to compliment his fastball, he projects as a 7th inning reliever, with his likely outcome being a long-term minor league starter.