As you surely know by now, Javier Baez is a weapon of terrible power, loosed upon the pitchers of the Cactus League. He's as good as it gets among the current crop of prospects.
On Wednesday, Baez homered for the fifth time in 13 spring games. His most recent bomb was a loud and majestic thing, estimated at 452 feet. Just look at this moonshot. Goodness.
[Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]
Baez was a monster last spring as well, hitting four bombs in 17 games while batting .298. This year he's hitting .308 and slugging .769. Baez is a stop-what-you're-doing-and-watch sort of hitter. He won't draw many walks (zero so far this spring) and there's some swing-and-miss in his game, but he has uncommon power — the kid may have the quickest bat in baseball, anywhere.
Last season, Baez launched 37 homers across two minor league levels, driving in 111 runs, stealing 20 bags, hitting .282/.341/.578. He's the gem in a loaded Chicago farm system. Baez had played shortstop exclusively throughout his pro career, but the Cubs have been giving him a look at second this week. He doesn't generally deliver a clinic in the field, but the 21-year-old's bat will make him a serious asset at any spot on the defensive spectrum.
So when will he make his big league debut? Well, the initial plan (likely still in place) was to start him at Triple-A this season:
“Having the success that he had last year – really from Day 1 – (he) came in with more of a purpose this year,” said Jason McLeod, the vice president of scouting and player development. “Certainly, we’ve communicated with him the plan to start the season in (Triple-A) Iowa and play shortstop.
“He wanted to come in and show like: ‘OK, that might be the plan. I’m fine with it. But I’m going to show you guys just how serious I’m taking this.’"
Cubs execs have repeatedly emphasized that they'd like to see their collection of prospects — Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, et al — dominate at every pro level before making the leap to Wrigley. The major league roster doesn't exactly have a contending vibe at the moment, so it makes little sense to start any clocks. (Mike Olt, we should note, has a clear shot at the opening day third base gig. He's 25, he's raking, and he's blocked by nothin'.)
Still, Baez needs to be owned in fantasy leagues of pretty much any size/shape. He's obviously the sort of hitter who can force timelines to change. We're talking about a middle infielder with exceptional power potential. We may not see him in Chicago in April, but it shouldn't be long. Stash now, enjoy later.
- Sports & Recreation