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Chicago Cubs: The meteoric rise of the Cubs’ Javier Baez

March 20, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Puerto Rico second baseman Javier Baez (9) steals third against Netherlands third baseman Xander Bogaerts (1) in the fourth inning during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
March 20, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Puerto Rico second baseman Javier Baez (9) steals third against Netherlands third baseman Xander Bogaerts (1) in the fourth inning during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs Javier Baez hasn’t spent much time in Mesa this spring. He’s been with the Puerto Rican team in the WBC which faces Team USA tonight for the title. And now, even more people know his name than before.

There are plenty of Chicago Cubs‘ fans ready for baseball to begin. What better place to get your fix than watching the WBC Championship between the United States and Puerto Rico. And even better than that? You can see Javier Baez complete his rise to a baseball superstar while using the WBC as his stage.

Cubs’ fans were very aware of the talent that Baez has. A Jim Hendry pick, he was one of the few holdovers from the previous regime. And at one point it appeared the Cubs “next superstar” was going to fizzle out. His powerful swing and home run ability foiled by his propensity to swing and miss. Just another in a line of Cubs’ top prospects that wouldn’t make the cut at the Major League level.

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But a funny thing happened in Chicago. Young stars were everywhere for the Cubs. No longer was it about a savior for the Cubs, but the saviors–not to be confused with the Walking Dead saviors. The weight of “saving” the franchise was no longer on one person, but on the team collectively.

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That allowed for Baez to emerge last season, but not just at the plate, but in the field as well. From his diving plays to quick tags, the MLB was learning to fear Baez. But if his glove wasn’t amazing enough, he was pretty adept at avoiding them on the basepaths.

When Baez left Cubs’ camp to play for Team Puerto Rico, Joe Maddon was excited for him. At that point, I don’t think he had any idea just how–not just excited, but proud–he would be of Baez when it was all said and done. Much of baseball learned who Baez was last year from his defense to his co-MVP with Jon Lester in the NLCS.

Paired up with his friend Francisco Lindor, the two looked to be an impressive young pair in the middle infield. But I don’t know that any of us saw Baez outshining Lindor throughout the WBC. But that’s exactly what’s happened, and it’s been a sight to behold to see Baez do his thing. If you haven’t seen it, for your viewing pleasure.

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The final chapter for Baez is to be written tonight as Puerto Rico and the United States will face off in the WBC title game–and the first for the American’s. You can catch it at 8 p.m. ET on MLB Network. No matter the result, it should be a fantastic game to watch.

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