Before he joined the Cubs, Javier Baez stole the show in the Florida State League.
Baseball can be funny regarding records and oddities. It seems no other sport places more emphasis on numbers than baseball, and in doing so, has fostered an enjoyment to finding the next great stat or history-making achievement.
The Chicago Cubs had the ninth overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. At that pick, they selected a stocky teenager from Florida who would grow into a prolific face not only for the organization but for baseball as a whole.
Javier Baez ranked in the top 20 overall by Baseball America the year before the Cubs selected him in the draft and was seen as a future star. Boy, how time flies when you’re having fun and mashing baseballs. In his first couple years, Báez worked his way through short-season Low A and Class-A before making the jump to Class-A Advanced in 2013. At the time, the organization’s Class-A Advanced team was the Daytona Cubs.
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Báez was coming off an excellent year in which he slashed .294/.346/.543, 16 home runs and 46 RBI in 80 games between the two levels. The 2013 campaign was no different except that the 20-year-old began to find his true power potential mashing 37 home runs between Class-A Advanced and Double-A.
On a warm June night that season, the Daytona Cubs hosted the Fort Myers Miracle, now known as the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Fort Myers started LHP Matt Tomshaw, now in the Chicago White Sox organization. The Cubs’ starter that night was right-hander Zach Cates, who is no longer in baseball.
The 16th overall prospect Báez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first. On a 2-2 pitch, Báez drilled one the opposite way over the fence for a two-run home run. At the start of the third, the 20-year-old stepped to the plate, this time hitting a solo home run to dead center field. In the fifth, Báez’s third trip to the plate, he once again went yard in as many plate appearances, on the at-bat’s first pitch, a three-run home run. A grand slam away from a home run cycle
As the bottom of the seventh commenced, fans were in for a treat. Only once before had it been done in the 94 years of the Florida State League, where a player hit four home runs in one game. The kid who would become known across baseball as ‘El Mago’ stepped to the plate amidst an anxious crowd of 1,775 fans, and, in true Báez fashion, mashed a first-pitch fastball, hooking it just inside the left-field foul pole to accomplish what only one other had done before him.
Báez finished the night 4-for-4, driving in seven runs with his four taters. He earned FSL All-Star honors the week prior and set his course for history with the record performance. Cubs fans have come to know and love Báez over the past almost-decade, and as fun as everything he has already accomplished to this point in his career is, this single-game performance takes the cake.