If He Can't Hit, Maybe He Can Pitch

Sometimes, rather than giving up on a prospect, there's another option. For instance, if an infield prospect can't hit, but he's got a strong arm, why not make a pitcher out of him?

Welinson Baez has slid down the list of Phillies prospects like a kid going down a water slide, except he never made a splash. He was always a slick fielder and scouts truly believed that he would eventually get around to learning how to hit, but that never really happened. So, the slick fielding Baez, who was always knows for having a strong arm, is headed to the mound.

Last week, Baez was seemingly unceremoniously sent to Extended Spring Training. Behind the move was another theory that just might be a way to reinvent Baez and put him back on the prospect charts; make him a pitcher.

Baez was hitting just .216 at Clearwater this season, marking the second time he had been at Clearwater in six minor league seasons and he had never risen any higher than the High-A level. Baez started his career by playing two full seasons and part of a third in the Gulf Coast League before finally moving along to the New York - Penn League for the last part of the 2005 season. It looked like the young prospect may have turned things around at the plate when he hit .324 in 45 games with Batavia. But a move to Lakewood the next season didn't continue the development and Baez was quickly sliding as a prospect.

Now, with pitching as an option, Baez could find himself moving back up the rankings. The plan is for him to pitch in the Gulf Coast League once their season starts and then see how things go from there.

Baez does truly have a strong, accurate arm and turning him into a pitching prospect is an interesting option. Even though he's a minor league veteran, Baez won't turn 24 until July, so there would still be time for him to move through the system. Perhaps this is an idea that the Phillies should have seriously explored before, but the hope was always there that Baez would return to the form that he showed in the New York - Penn League in 2005.

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