By Rodger M. Wood
19-year old shortstop, Javiar Baez, fed so well off Midwest League pitchers in his first 57 games in his first full professional season at Peoria that the parent Chicago Cubs decided to give him a tougher test at Fast A- Florida State League Daytona midway through the 2012 season.
The Cubs $2.625 million dollar investment after they drafted him first (9th overall) in the 2011 Major League Draft appears to be paying off handsomely.
The promotion came after Baez was named Midwest League Player of the July 9-15 week, after hitting 478 BA, 11 hits in 23 AB, 3 HR, 2 2B, 2 3B, driving in 6 RBI, stealing 2 bases, and scoring two runs. He had hit safely in 11 games and carried a 331 BA for the week.
The 6-1, 205 youngster looks like he has the range and speed to play major league shortstop, but still growing, maybe into a Cal Ripken sized shortstop, and competing for the position with another stellar prospect in the Cubs minor league system, Arismendy Alcantara, and Starlin Castro at the major league level, may face a position change to 3B, 2B, catcher or even outfielder in the near future.
In 57 games played at Peoria, Baez compiled a 333 BA, 71 hits, 10 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, and 33 RBI in 213 AB. With a 9 BB/48K ratio, he can work on his plate discipline by laying off the bad pitches which Midwest pitchers occasionally fooled him with.
Opposing Fast A- pitchers will be more cunning, and throw more good strikes, but once Javiar Baez becomes acclimated to Fast A baseball, it could be just a brief time before he progresses up through AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa to hitting third in the Cubs lineup at Wrigley Field.
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