Let's take a look at 10 of the most important attributes that should help to indicate what a prospect’s future might hold. Players are ranked on a scale of 1-10 by their qualities for each aspect, accumulating in a final prospect grade. Grades are based on what prospects can bring to the table from the current position they are projected to play in the major leagues.
Without further ado, let’s find out if Javier Baez makes the grade…
1) Baseball IQ – Javier Baez has had no problem rocketing up the Cubs’ system and has spent the entire 2014 season at Triple-A thus far at the age of 21. There are reports we could see this prospect at Wrigley in the very near future. Rating: 10 out of 10.
2) Batting-Eye – Baez will strikeout often while drawing the occasional walk. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, Baez has drawn just 70 walks while striking out a total of 261 times as of 7/24/2014. That rate will need to improve in order to keep the batting average up. Rating: 8 out of 10.
3) Hit-Tool – The slugger has never been a .300 hitter in the minor leagues. After hitting .282 in 2013, Baez got off to a slow start in 2014, but has rebounded of late to get his batting average up to .253. Looks like a .270-to-.285 hitter during his prime. Rating: 9 out of 10.
4) Power – After spending most of his career playing SS, the Cubs recently moved Baez to 2B in order to find him a quicker route to Wrigley Field. After hitting 37 HR’s in 2013, that type of power will be a welcome sight for fantasy managers at the 2B position. Rating: 10 out of 10.
5) Speed – The masher is more known for his power than his speed. But after putting up 24 SB’s in 2012, 20 SB’s in 2013, and currently sitting at 16 SB’s in 2014, Baez is capable of contribute healthy totals here as well. Rating: 9 out of 10.
6) Body – The top prospect checks in at 6’0" and 190 pounds. His size and agility could allow him to find a home at a few different positions. How the rest of the Cubs’ top prospects develop from here will help determine what position he settles in at. Rating: 10 out of 10.
7) Durability – Baez logged 130 games played in 2013, and is on pace for another healthy, full season in 2014. He did injure his thumb while playing in the AFL in 2012, but has fully recovered. Nothing to worry about here yet. Rating: 10 out of 10.
8) Ceiling – If Javy stakes claim to his new position in the majors, it is hard to see him not being able to contribute a mix of HR’s and SB’s that could quickly catapult him to the top of the 2B rankings. I could see Baez becoming a power/speed mix at 2B we haven’t seen in a while. 30 HR’s and 20 SB’s in a season isn’t out of the question. Rating: 10 out of 10.
9) Floor – Everyone wanted Baez to start the year in the majors, but his struggles in Triple-A proved that he wasn’t quite ready. If those same struggles carry over to the majors, we could see similar totals to Brian Dozier in 2013. Rating: 8 out of 10.
10) Future – The future is looking bright on the North Side, and Baez is the most likely candidate to be the next top prospect to make their way to Wrigley. This dynamic bat looks like a future top 5 fantasy option at either 2B or SS. Rating: 10 out of 10.
Overall Grade: 94% - A
Future Outlook: The Cubs recently promoted 2B Arismendy Alcantara to the majors, and have one of their potential building blocks currently occupying SS in Starlin Castro. So where does Javier Baez fit? Let’s start by giving Mendy some reps in the outfield (done). Next, let’s demote 2012 2B Gold Glove winner Darwin Barney and give Baez some reps at 2B in Triple-A (done and done). After clearing 2B at the major league level, the positional puzzle becomes much clearer now for Baez and the North Siders. I wonder just how much Darwin Barney’s demotion to Triple-A has to do with mentoring and teaching Javy Baez his new position before his call-up?.?.. One thing is for sure, the front office sure is doing their part to make sure Baez will get his chance sooner rather than later. It won’t be long until we see this slugger in the heart of the Cubs’ batting order, launching bombs out onto Waveland Avenue.