Manny being Manny is taking on a whole new meaning.
It’s been a little over two months since Manny Ramirez joined the Chicago Cubs as a player-coach at Triple-A Iowa. The former major league outfielder already is leaving a mark on the organization’s top farmhands.
“I know when I’ve been around, Manny was great,” Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ senior vice president for scouting and player development, told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer this week. “His accessibility, openness, candor and willingness to help.”
Javier Baez, considered one of Major League Baseball’s top prospects, wasted no time in announcing his big league arrival this week, blasting three home runs in his first three games after being called up by the Cubs. Baez was on the fast track to success well before Ramirez joined the organization, but the 21-year-old sees a correlation between Manny’s arrival and him taking the next step in his baseball career.
“He was great. I learned a lot of stuff from him,” Baez told the Sun-Times. “He helped my approach to right-center, (following) his routine every day, going to the cage, the way he works. He’s always got a bat in his hand doing something, either swinging the bat or just hitting in the cage. He talked to a lot of the guys. A lot of people learned from him.”
Baez recently ranked fifth on MLB.com’s midseason Top 100 Prospects list. He’s one of three Cubs prospects in the top 10, joining third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Addison Russell, who was acquired earlier this season in a trade with the Oakland Athletics involving pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The Cubs have six prospects in the top 53, with infielder/outfielder Arismendy Alcantara, outfielder Albert Almora and outfielder Jorge Soler joining the aforementioned trio.
Clearly, this is a critical time for the rebuilding Cubs. And according to Wittenmyer, the consensus among Chicago’s prospects is that Ramirez’s tutelage — which apparently doesn’t involve him imposing too much on their swings and fundamentals — has been beneficial.
“He just talked to me about my approach and how the pitchers were kind of pitching around me and to the other guys (like Soler and Bryant),” Baez said. “So that’s why I started taking more pitches and swinging at pitches in the zone.”
The new Manny being Manny could help the Cubs become winners even without Ramirez producing as a player. Go figure.
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