The move of Javier Baez from shortstop to second base at Triple-A Iowa in mid-July immediately sparked speculation the righthanded hitter could be bound for Wrigley Field and on Monday came the report that the team’s No. 3 prospect would be promoted in time for Tuesday’s game.
Chicago already has Starlin Castro in the majors as a solid-field, solid-bat, young and cost-controlled player at short, and recently added Addison Russell, who might be the best of the three players, defensively, at short.
Baez played second base in spring training and nearly went north with the team after clubbing four homers. With Arismendy Alcantara already in the majors and playing several positions and with Kris Bryant ready to come up in 2015 and take hold of third base, the Cubs are wise to see at which other spots Baez can fit.
But Baez has special bat speed and his power graded a 75 on the 20-80 scout scale, which would equate to 35+ homers. Despite a slow start in 2014—he turned off scouts off early with 63 strikeouts in his first 166 at-bats—he has rebounded of late, and through 104 games had a career-best 23 homers. He also slugged a home run to the opposite field off of Nats’ top prospect Lucas Giolito in the Futures Game at Target Field in Minneapolis.
He remains an aggressive swinger—one evaluator stamped his swing ‘all or nothing’—but the elite bat speed and plus power have not waned. His body language and overall play improved, coincidentally, with the arrival of Manny Ramirez as a coach at Iowa.
He has power to all fields, and according to another scout, has a chance to lead the league in homers—and strikeouts.
What To Expect
A rival evaluator says Baez’s only non-plus tool is speed and even with that being the case, he still has 16 steals through 104 games.
For fantasy purposes, Baez is likely to bring home runs and RBIs and some stolen bases, but will likely be a drag on a team’s batting average category.