Friday night, Javier Baez was rolling through cornfields on a 16 hour coach bus ride from New Orleans to Iowa; today, he was handed a plane ticket to Denver.
According to a report by 670thescore.com’s Bruce Levine, the Cubs will promote the highly touted middle-infield prospect from Triple-A in time for their Tuesday night game at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies.
Baez, 21, started the year as one of the youngest players in Triple-A and struggled at the outset, but he’s been raking of late. Since July 1, he has gotten on base at a .360 clip and slugged .675 with 12 home runs. He capped the streak last night with a pair of dingers and a 3-5 night Omaha, bringing his overall season line to .260/.323/.510 with 23 home runs.
The ninth overall pick in 2011, Baez played his first 283 professional games at shortstop. He garnered scout’s attention for his power at the position, knocking 37 long balls out between High and Double-A last season, and entered 2014 as the fifth best prospect in the game, according to Baseball America.
But Baez’s immediate big league future will be at second base. Three time all star Starlin Castro had already blocked his way in the majors, and with last month’s acquisition of prospect Addison Russell, another heralded young shortstop and a much more capable defender than Baez, the Cubs moved the Puerto Rican native over to second base.
In turn, this means that rookie Arismendy Alcantara, who had been splitting time between second and center since his own promotion in June, will now move to the outfield full time.
Baez will be just the second (Alcantara being the first), in a slew of top hitting prospects expected to join the Cubs in the near future.
Team president Theo Epstein has hinted that Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, already a member of the Cubs’ forty man roster, could make his debut this September; Third baseman Kris Bryant, the No.2 prospect in baseball according to Baseball America, and Addison Russell, the No.5, should be up by next June. Even outfielder Albert Almora and catcher Kyle Schwarber, the team’s top pick from the 2014 draft, could even be called upon by the end of next season.
Not only will the Cubs’ playoffs hopes be riding on the young infielders’ shoulders, but the weight of history will as well. From two-time Triple Crown winner Rogers Hornsby to modern Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg, Wrigley has laid home to some of history’s greatest second baseman.
Baez has a lot to match up to. He’ll start trying tomorrow night, 7:40 central time, against the Rockies.