Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez: Will he be the savior at second base?


Can Baez seize the opportunity in his second time around in Chicago?

Last season about this time, the Chicago Cubs called up Javier Baez, moving him to second base as the thought was he could be their future there. Fast forward to this year, Starlin Castro went from shortstop to second base to bench–and Baez is likely having deja vu.With another chance, can he seize the opportunity?

The anti-Castro movement has picked up steam–and it’s of his own doing. While Castro has started to swing the bat better, his three-error performance against the Reds on Monday coincided with the September call-up of Baez. A very hot Baez. After finishing with a .169 average in 213 at-bats including 95 strikeouts in Chicago, Baez has worked to evolve as a hitter.

In 70 games at Iowa this season, Baez slashed .324/.385/.527 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs. The most impressive number though might be his strikeout total. In 313 at-bats, Baez has struck out just 76 times, lowering his K-rate to 24 percent. If Baez can bring that to Chicago and play within himself, that second base job could be his.

After being the “golden boy” of the Cubs farm system, last year’s struggles were very humbling for Baez. Entering this spring, he was told he’d start in the minors almost immediately to work on his game and approach. Not long after the season started, his sister Noely passed away as he stepped away from the game for a bit to grieve as they were very close.

Upon his return, he quickly began to show that promise again–but bad luck struck as he broke a finger sliding into second base. At that time it appeared Baez was on the verge of being called back up to the majors. Those plans were put on hold, but it also may have paved the way for Kyle Schwarber. Sometimes you just have to believe that things happen for a reason.

The fall of Castro has been difficult to watch. At just 25, there’s still time and potential–but fans and now the organization may be wondering if it’s all worth it. But the rise of Baez isn’t guaranteed either. For the time being, Baez will see much of the time at second base but not necessarily every day. Joe Maddon likel has a plan. One that will give Baez a chance to succeed, as well as not alienating Castro to feel he doesn’t have worth. The Cubs may need both of them down the stretch in some for or fashion.

Next: Are Castro's days in the field over for 2015?