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Prospect Instinct 2012 | Javier Baez, SS Chicago Cubs

Javier Baez, SS Chicago Cubs

 12/01/1992

Height: 6′ 0″ Weight: 180

W
hen you’re compared to the likes of Gary Sheffield and Hanley Ramirez as a high school player, people tend to take notice. Chicago Cubs scout Tom Clark sure did. On his recommendation, the Cubs selected shortstop Javier Baez with the 9th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB player draft.

The versatile Baez has played shortstop, third base, and has caught. While there are people who think he can stick at SS, the path is blocked by Starling Castro and a move to 2B seems unlikely. He’s going to add to his frame and while he could move to the outfield, realistically a move to 3B is going to happen. Though the Cubs sent RHP Chris Carpenter to the Red Sox to complete the compensation for Theo Epstein, they had discussed 3B prospect Josh Vitters. Vitters, it could be argued, is no longer the prospect the Cubs had hoped he would be, and that Baez fits more with their future vision. We should have a clearer picture as 2012 plays out.

We discussed Baez in our 2011 MLB Draft Review right after he was drafted at #9 by the Cubs:

BI Rank – #12 Javier Baez SS Arlington Country Day (FL) - Baez is currently a SS but will move over to 3B as a pro. He has plus plus bat speed plus raw power. He’ll profile well at 3B with an excellent arm but still needs time to mature and focus what can sometimes be detrimental energy. If he can learn to channel the energy into focus he could be an above average hitter to go along with his plus power.

Instinct: The Cubs took a big upside bat here with a questionable position path to the pros. They either don’t believe in Josh Vitters as their next 3B or they think Baez can stay up the middle. Starlin Castro in Chicago and Junior Lake breaking out this season it would seem the SS/2B spot could be solved. So a move to 2B for Baez could be an excellent backup plan to Castro/Lake. But I’m not sure he can handle the position.

The Puerto Rican native went on to sign with the Cubs and made it into 5 games between the Arizona League Cubs and the Boise Hawks of the Northwest League.  He went 5-18 with 2 doubles and 2 stolen bases in his brief stint.  He looks to open the season back in the Northwest league where we will have several opportunities to get video of him.

In November, we ranked Baez as the #1 prospect in our Chicago Cubs 2012 Top Prospect article.  We went on to rank him at #55 overall in our Baseball Instinct 360° top prospect list:

Chicago Cubs55°. Javier Baez, SS/3B, Cubs, 12/1/1992  - Offensively he has lightning quick bat speed, which some have compared to another former Florida high school shortstop, Gary Sheffield.  Baez is an aggressive hitter although he did show some ability to take walks as an amateur.  He has a chance to be an impact hitter who can hit for average and power, decent speed, as well as a solid glove that will likely need to be moved to 3B or the outfield.  ETA 2015.

Here’s what we see in Baez at the plate and in the field to rank him where we did.

The Bat

Baez is just entering his first season so the data for any type of statistical analysis isn’t available. But the fact that he hit .711 with 20 HR as a High School senior speaks volumes to his ability.

I had one of the top hitting instructors in the country take a look at the Baez video below:

Skills Show Video

YouTube Preview Image

Our friend Joe Francisco of The Performance Factory in New York had this to say about Baez hitting mechanics as he broke the swing down in detail:

Stance:
Relaxed comfortable slightly open stance
Stance is completely individual so it seems to work for him

Load:
Gets into a good launch position
Would like to see a smoother easy move getting back

Approach:
Aggressive approach
Creates momentum
Attacks the ball well

Swing Path:
Flattens out the bat and is able to keep it in line with the ball and in the hitting zone for a long time

Extension:
Gets good extension through the ball giving him the ability to make a mistake in the zone and still square the ball up

Finish:
Over rotates at times which can lead to him pulling off balls

Strengths:
Definitely has some bat speed and pop
Power potential – matches the plane of the ball well and has a good exit path
Aggressiveness – attacks the ball and doesn’t seem to get cheated

Weaknesses:
Technique – can definitely clean up his body position and improve his swing making him way more consistent and repeatable
Aggressiveness – may be susceptible to off speed pitches at higher levels

Overall:
Needs polish mechanically to maximize his ability and reach his high offensive ceiling. Without any game footage its hard to say how he can project but with the lack of instruction at the minor league level he can be hit or miss and is for the most part on his own.

Joe Francisco – March 12, 2012
www.YouTube.com/TeamFrancisco

The Glove

As a High School SS, Baez has the athleticism to handle any position change that may be in his future. His motions are smooth and his arm is well above average. While I would love to prognosticate his defensive home of the future, I just think there are far too many variables for that to be plausible.

If Junior Lake continues his development and proves that 2011 was not a fluke, it will be Lake that makes the first move to either 2B or 3B. I think that Baez may be able to handle either position as well depending on what happens with Lake.

With that being said, Baez seems to be getting a shot at stick at SS. It’s a very clouded picture in Chicago but a nice problem for them to have:  three shortstops with major league bats and needs at other positions.

Our Instinct

The top prospect in the Cubs system, Baez has tools on both sides of the game that could make him one of the top hitters in the NL Central. His bat speed is legit and if he can hold onto any bit of his above average speed, he’ll have 5 tool ability when he reaches the majors.

He should start the season back in Boise but could move quickly up the ladder.

Stick with Baseball Instinct and we’ll keep you a step ahead of the game. Check back soon for more Prospect coverage. While you’re here, check out our Baseball Instinct 360° – it’s our top 360 prospects for 2012. Also check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Also, check out our friends over at Seedlings to Stars for a unique perspective on prospects.  Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be, so don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at mailbag@baseballinstinct.com.


I was born and raised in NYC. My father was a diehard Yankees fan but not biased and raised me to love the game more than any one team. For that I'm truly thankful to him. My love for the game runs deep, and after crunching numbers all day long, I tend to spend my nights at the FSL ballparks.

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