Javier Baez -- SS – Chicago Cubs
Height: 6'0" Weight: 195 lbs. -- Hits: Right Throws: Right
2013 Stats (A & AA) – .282/.341/.578, 37 HR, 111 RBI, 98 Runs, 20 Steals
Javier Baez doesn’t resemble a middle of the order run producing hitter or a future fixture on the gossip pages of TMZ but looks can be deceiving. Baez has swagger and when a young player carries himself in such a way there are only two roads for it to lead. Either he becomes a perennial All-Star player who we’ll see on McDonald’s commercials or he’ll rub his teammates and community the wrong way and will be an isolated malcontent. At this point the Cubs are hoping he develops into the former. Baez has elite bat speed and generates great power thanks to an aggressive approach at the plate and high leg kick. Although his 2013 numbers are from just single-A & double-A ball, he has also produced big numbers in the Winter Leagues, Arizona Fall League and in the WBC. There are few who question whether or not Baez can hit major league pitching though there are some holes in his game that need addressing. He is too aggressive at the plate. He hasn’t learned to take pitches, work the pitcher over or set them up for later in the count. He also makes far too many mistakes in the field which could cripple him eventually. The good news is that his competitiveness is simply relentless and that could ideally force him into developing the right way. The Cubs have a very serious dilemma with both Baez and Starlin Castro. Castro took a major step backward in 2013 while Baez is charging hard for a big league spot. A position change would seem likely but which error machine do they play at shortstop? Baez’s arm would be wasted at second base and the future at third base seems to belong to Kris Bryant. Whatever happens in Chicago, Baez is a very exciting talent that should be middle infield eligible for at least a few seasons. This makes him one of the more interesting prospects in all of baseball.
The injury to Starlin Castro has been a true blessing for the Chicago Cubs coaching staff but likely a headache for the front office. The extended time Javier Baez has received has done nothing but further confirm he can handle the jump to Chicago as soon as March 31st. But, with Castro signed through 2019 and other infield prospects in the pipeline this has become a crossroads for the Cubs front office. They would be able to keep both Castro and Baez on the big league team this season if they move Baez over to second base but that is a big ask for the youngster. Baez made a ridiculous 44 errors at shortstop in single-A & double-A last season so learning a new position may not be ideal. Plus the Cubs would then need to add him to the 40 man roster which begins the arbitration clock ticking. With the Cubs likely not going to contend in 2014, this would be a very aggressive decision by Theo Epstein and his staff. The overall fantasy picture is as follows. Drafting Baez in a re-draft league makes little sense. Unless we get to the end of March and he is playing second base there is no reason to get excited. In keeper and dynasty league formats Baez is one of the few prospects worth taking in the earlier middle rounds. He and Byron Buxton would be the two most fantasy relevant prospects on my keeper league board right now.
Nomar Garciaparra – Very similar bodies and swings but Baez has a long way to go to match Nomar’s defensive abilities.
Jose Valentin – Valentin represents the downside of what Baez could be and that is not too awful. They are similar in approach at the plate and in defensive ability.
Currently Ranked as the 29th Shortstop In The Fantasy Alarm Draft Guide
ADP of 337.29 Overall in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC)
Drafted in the 29th round (377th overall) in the FSTA Experts League Draft