Chicago Cubs Prospect Javier Baez Set To Make Major League Debut Tonight
Chicago Cubs fans get ready! One of the main thoroughbred horses that the Cubs have in their stable of prospects is about to get his first ride around the track. Highly-touted infield prospect Javier Baez is set to make his Major League Baseball debut tonight in Colorado as the Cubs play against the Colorado Rockies.
Baez was a first-round pick (9th overall) of the Cubs in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft from Arlington Country Day School, in Jacksonville, Florida. Drafted as a shortstop, Baez has recently been playing second base while in his first season at triple-A playing for the Iowa Cubs. The transition of Baez to second base doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as most baseball peopl,e figured it was unlikely that Baez would stick at shortstop – due to his size and bulky lower half – and that a move to either second or third base would be more of a fit for him. Also, with current Cubs starting shortstop Starlin Castro playing at an All-Star level, and with the recent acquisition of talented shortstop prospect Addison Russell from the Oakland A’s in the Jeff Samardzija / Jason Hammel trade, it only made sense for the Cubs to start exploring putting Baez at another position besides shortstop.
While in triple-A, Baez was hitting .260/.323/.510 with 64 R’s, 24 2B’s, 23 HR’s, 80 RBI’s, 16 SB’s, and an .833 OPS in 388 AB’s. These numbers may not scream “get me up to the majors,” in the last month (28 days), Baez was hitting .322/.370/.700 with 17 R’s, 7 2B’s, 9 HR’s, 27 RBI’s, and an 1.070 OPS in 90 AB’s, clearly proving that Baez might be ready for more of a challenge.
The Cubs have a stock pile of hitting prospects within their farm system, so they have to do some exploring with positional changes in order to get most of their prospects on the field at the same time and optimizing the most talented lineup. With Baez coming up and starting at second base for the Cubs tonight, it also allows them to move current starting second baseman Arismendy Alcantara to center field, a likely positional destination for him. And with Baez moving to second base and not third base, that leaves the door open for either star prospect Kris Bryant to come up and play third, or the front office could decide to move Bryant to a corner outfield position (most likely right field) and move Castro over to third base once Russell is ready to play shortstop in the majors.
I had the great opportunity to get to watch Baez play with the [Iowa] Cubs when they were in town to take on the Sacramento River Cats (A’s triple-A affiliate). I did a brief post-game analysis write-up on what I saw from Baez (as well as Alcantara) and what we all could expect to see out of him as a player (Click Here). In short, Cubs fans should expect Baez to hit for power – a lot of power – due to his tremendous bat speed, but also expect him to strike out a lot when he’s not hitting home runs. This season in triple-A, Baez is sporting a 130:34 K/BB ratio, but does have 49 extra-base hits, so when he hits the ball, he hits it hard.
ESPN’s Keith Law has Baez rated as the Cubs #1 organizational prospect and #7 overall in his top 100 overall. MLB.com has Baez rated as the Cubs #1 organizational prospect and #6 overall. Other respected publications, Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, have Baez rated #4 (Prospectus) and #5 (America) overall in their top prospect rankings, respectfully.