According to MLB.com, Cubs’ top prospect Javier Baez ranks as the second-best shortstop prospect in Major League Baseball, trailing only Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts in a list loaded with talent.
Baez, 22, has excited Chicago baseball fans as he has worked his way through the system, reaching Double-A last year. Here’s what MLB.com writer Teddy Cahill had to say about the Cubs’ top prospect:
In 2013, Baez led the Minor Leagues in extra-base hits (75) and RBIs (111), even as he reached Double-A as a 20-year-old. His hitting prowess comes from his incredible bat speed. Baez is a very aggressive hitter and is a good bad-ball hitter. His defense isn’t as polished as his bat, and some scouts think he will end up as a second or third baseman.
Baez is slated to open 2014 as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Iowa, but as Cahill mentioned, there seems to be a high likelihood of him switching positions at some point in the near future. Starlin Castro is under contract for the rest of the decade, and is widely regarded as a cornerstone of the franchise moving forward – despite his offensive woes in 2013.
Chicago’s other top infield prospect, Kris Bryant, is expected to man the hot corner once he reaches the big leagues, leaving the potential shift to second base as a very real possibility for Baez moving forward. Current starting second baseman Darwin Barney, who won a National League Gold Glove award in 2012, could be retained as positional depth given he is one of the best defenders in the game.
Should Baez continue his torrid pace (he’s hit .286/.342/.562) during his minor league career thus far, there is a solid chance he reaches Chicago by the time September call-ups come around – at the very latest.
Following Baez on the list is Astros’ prospect Carlos Correa and Indians’ talent Francisco Lindor. It’s a bit surprising to see Lindor come in fourth on this list, as many around the support regard him as the top middle infield talent. Seeing three names in front of him on a list is rare, to say the least.
Rounding out the list are: Oakland’s Addison Russell, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager, son of former big league outfielder Raul Mondesi, Raul Adalberto Mondesi, of Kansas City, Alen Hanson of the Pirates, Luis Sardenas of Texas and Chris Owings of Arizona.