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Cubs Draft SS Javier Baez

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With the ninth pick in the draft, a draft that did not shape up as I expected, the Cubs selected high school shortstop Javier Baez. Baez projects to have good power, but I think he will be more likely to play third for the Cubs than short.

Don’t expect Baez to move very quickly. He should appear in Wrigley no earlier than 2014. 2016 wouldn’t surprise me.

We’ll keep this post updated with links and additional comment as the evening progresses.

Edits: Added Baseball America and Chicago Tribune responses. Added a scouting report from perfectgame.org. Add the reaction of Cubs scouts. Added the Jim Callis tweet.

Baseball America’s reaction: very favorable. They had Baez rated as the best high school hitter. That means they had him rated above Bubba Starling as a hitter. That is high praise indeed.

The Chicago Tribune checks in with a more cautious assessment of the pick, relaying some questions regarding Baez’s make up that came from an earlier Baseball America scouting report. Of course, they also mention that he has fastest bat in the draft. That’s another good sign, as bat speed is difficult to teach.

Here is another scouting report on Baez, again highlighting his bat. This one is more optimistic that he can stay at short. I’ve seen in a few places that some teams view him as a catcher, but I would be a little surprised to see that in the case of the Cubs. I still think his best positions for the Cubs will be third. On the question of makeup, this scouting report refers to it as “intensity” and “Latin flair.” The personality red flags are not being talked about consistently from one report to the next. It may take some time to figure out what the truth really is in that area.

And finally we get the best information so far… comments from the Cubs themselves. Adding to the confusions about his make up.

"…said Tim Wilken, Cubs’ director of amateur and professional scouting. “He has a great arm and is a smart baserunner in tune with the game.“Our scouts got to know Javier and are impressed by his makeup. We saw him catch, play third base and play shortstop. He’s a quiet and thoughtful young man off the field who lets his game speak for itself on the field.”"

More interesting than the comments on his makeup are those regarding his patience. Even this article says he lacks patience, but he walked 32 times against 83 at bats. That’s an awfully high walk rate for a guy who lacks patience. We’ll keep on eye on that aspect of Baez as well.

This looks like a very good pick for the Cubs. It will be interesting to see how much it takes to sign him.

Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted this when the Cubs made the pick.

"#Cubs taking Baez here. Best bat speed in draft. Typical high-upside Tim Wilken pick. #mlbdraft"