Michel Baez, the fifth-ranked prospect in the San Diego Padres system, made his 2018 debut last night for the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm.
Michel Baez, standing at 6’8″ and 220 pounds, took the mound on Monday night for his Lake Elsinore and 2018 debut. Entering the year as the fifth-ranked San Diego Padres prospect, 42nd overall, Baez is one of the more exciting prospects in the Padres’ system and showed why Monday night.
Armed with his four-pitch mix, including a mid-upper 90s fastball, Baez toed the rubber against the San Jose Giants in his first High-A start.
His first inning was a little shaky, but overall, he came out dominant. Trying to establish the outer half of the plate, Baez fell behind to all four hitters he faced in the first inning on the first pitch. However, only one ball left the infield as he produced two groundball outs (should have been three, but an error on the shortstop prevented that) and one easy pop-up to center field.
Overall, Baez fell behind 12 of the 19 batters he faced, however, he refused to give up a single hit on the night!
Baez went five innings of no-hit ball, giving up one unearned run and two walks. He didn’t record a strikeout until his final frame which he led off with two swinging strikeouts.
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His second inning was just as shaky as his first, surrendering a leadoff walk, followed by the second error of the night by Kevin Melean. A wild pitch put two runners in scoring position, one of whom scored on a groundball out to second base.
Baez walked just 10 hitters last year in 63 innings between the Arizona League and the Midwest League. He recorded two in his first two innings tonight. He was simply getting a feel for his pitches, trying to work all parts of the plate.
Despite the early struggles, Baez settled down very nicely over his final three-plus frames. He retired the last 11 batters he faced and started to generate a lot more swings and misses.
Earlier in his start, hitters were able to work Baez into deep counts and stay alive with two-strikes as he was unable to find the strike zone with his breaking pitches. Baez quickly found his groove with the fastball on the inside half of the plate, forcing San Jose hitters into a number of high, easy pop-flys.
Overall, it was an extremely positive start to the season for Michel Baez.