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 Javier Baez | SS, Cubs | Born:  12/1/1992

I realize I’ve been a little Javier Baez-centric lately (see here and here), but I’m not going to apologize for that.  I’m also not going to apologize for the fact that I already wrote one of these posts on Baez around this time last year.  No, I’m actually going to take this time to write a few hundred more words on him because he’s pretty much the hottest thing going in Minor League Baseball, and y’all need to take note.  Baez is beasting right now.  There’s no gentle way to put it.  For the past month the 20-year-old has been drilling lasers all over Southern League ballparks, and in many cases, out of said ballparks.  Since being promoted to Double-A Tennessee in early July, Baez has posted 28 XBH (14 HR) in 185 PA for a slugging average of .631, which is an insane figure for a middle infielder.

It’s probably worth noting, though, the High-A-to-Double-A transition wasn’t exactly a smooth one for Baez.  The jump to Double-A is rarely smooth for any minor leaguer, but the first couple weeks in Tennessee were particularly rough on the Cubs’ young shortstop.  An extremely aggressive approach at the plate leaves Baez susceptible to the whiff, and he was whiffing quite often as he adjusted to upper levels pitching last month — he struck out 13 times in his first 34 at-bats (38%).  To be clear:  he’s still whiffing too much (28% K-rate on the year at Double-A), but that’s simply his nature — swing-and-miss troubles will likely follow him throughout his career.  When he makes contact, his elite bat speed ensures that that contact is loud.  Baez’s .364 BABIP is more a product of the fact that he’s crushing line drives than it is a red flag for regression.  Perhaps the most encouraging nugget to draw from this smallish sample of Double-A baseball is the growing walk rate.  The 6.2% BB-rate Baez posted at High-A during this first half of the season was his best figure in that department to date.  His walk rate at Double-A?  9.4%.  That’s a huge leap in the right direction for a guy who’s trying to escape the stigma of a poor approach.

Given his recent performance, I think it’s safe to tone down the risk associated with Javier Baez.  Since the day he was drafted 9th overall in June of 2011, no one denied the upside.  It’s rare to find an athlete that can pair otherworldly bat speed with equally impressive hand-eye coordination.  Baez is that athlete, and he’s going to be special in the bigs.  I have little doubt at this point that he’ll be a major fantasy asset, but the enormity of his impact depends largely on whether or not he can stick at shortstop.  This number is going to alarm you, but Baez has 41 errors (!!!) at shortstop on the season.  Still, word from Chicago is that the Cubs are content to continue his development at short.  Scouts are increasingly optimistic regarding his hands, range, and instincts, and no one has ever questioned his arm strength.  If he can stick at short, the fantasy ceiling is absurdly high, with upside in every category from a premium position.  If he moves to third base or to the outfield, he’ll still be among the league’s best.  Suffice to say, you’re going to want Javier Baez on your team come 2015.

From Around The Web

  1. Gregorius Chant says:
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    Scott, thanks for that! I am a huge cubs fan (poor me) and I look forward to seeing him in the bigs, especially after all the dingers he’s hit this year. I didn’t know about his K-rate nor his number of errors. While I am disappointed to read that (wondering if he was the answer for a struggling Castro), I am glad I know more now. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your minor league analysis (thanks for Shelby Miller this year too). Keep it up and great job!

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Gregorius Chant: Thanks for the kind words!

  2. Cashman says:
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    Think there’s any chance Springer gets called up? Looking for a Guy to stash in NA spot right now (had Xander there) and don’t know who to roll with….

    Castellanos, Hamilton, Sano, Lindor, & Taveras are some guys off the board…

    A September call up would be a nice stash so any advice you give would be sweet! Love your stuff btw ….

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Cashman: I’d be shocked if we saw Springer this year… no reason for the Astros to call him up. Mike Olt would be my stash… there’s really not much left in the high-impact department.

  3. Phil says:
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    If you were in a league that was your normal 5×5 plus 5 more categories in: OBP, SLUG, 2B, BB, K (So 10 total cats)

    who would you take….

    Lindor or Baez?

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @Phil: Lindor shouldn’t even be on you radar… he’s not even a top 50 fantasy prospect, IMO… good AVG, good speed, absurdly awesome defender… much better skill set for real life than for fantasy. I wrote a post on exactly this not long ago: http://razzball.com/scouting-the-unknown-future-fantasy-schmohawks-edition/

      The answer is Baez & it’s not even close.

      • Phil says:
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        @Scott Evans: Thanks! yea; your right; just made me pause because I kinda like guys with a good bb/K and enough power for doubles in that league… obviously HR RBI SLUG go to Baez big time

      • Karl says:
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        @Scott Evans: Hmm, is Baez really that far ahead in Phil’s 10 cat league? I’d pick Lindor over Baez in AVG, OBP, BB, SB, H, possibly R (if he’s leading off), with a crushing victory in Ks. Power categories at SS are nice though, I admit.

        I’ve got Lindor in a H2H dynasty league almost exactly like Phil’s (9 cats with NetSB and no BBs); and with power at other positions, Lindor’s projections cleanly beat Baez’.

        • Karl says:
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          @Karl: In terms of value in our config, I should say. Also, Lindor’s a 100% guaranteed SS.

          But yeah, if Baez turns into Gary Sheffield at SS, I’m going to be kicking myself.

          • Scott Evans

            Scott Evans says:
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            @Karl: The two are certainly closer in this sort of format than in standard leagues, but from a dynasty league perspective, it’s all about offensive upside, and Baez’s upside is as good as it gets. Keep in mind that some of the cats you’re projecting Lindor to take — AVG & OBP — won’t be blowouts… Baez actually might end up ahead in those departments if everything clicks.

  4. TheNewGuy says:
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    Im going to offer off Segura for one of these beastly prospects I think in the offseason. These guys can be difference makers, whereas Seguras good but more Jimmy Rollins good (hey thats actually a very good comp).

    Can you rank these guys for me then as to who youd rather have in a keeper, obviously slightly prioritising guys who can be used next year:

    Baez, S Miller, Jo-Fer, Bogartes, Myers, Puig, Buxton, Taveras. Sorry for the usual tough question man!

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @TheNewGuy: Jo-Fer, Puig, Myers, Bogaerts, Myers, Taveras, Shelby, Baez, Buxton … you really can’t go wrong with any of ‘em … Baez & Buxton are 2015 guys, though…

      • Scott Evans

        Scott Evans says:
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        @Scott Evans: ranked Myers twice… not sure why.

        • goodfold2 says:
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          @Scott Evans: so i’m guessing myers is third on the list and not 4th?

          • Scott Evans

            Scott Evans says:
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            @goodfold2: Yessir.

      • TheNewGuy says:
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        @Scott Evans: No probs thanks man, gives me a good idea anyway. Really surprised Baez has overtaken Buxton though, just due to recent weeks?

        I’ll try for em all anyway, only 3 im not so interested in are Tav, Baez and Buxton cos they wont be ready for next year. But their upsides so great if I got offered them I might not be able to say no…

        • Scott Evans

          Scott Evans says:
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          @TheNewGuy: Oscar not ready for next year? Not sure where you’re getting that…

          • TheNewGuy says:
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            @Scott Evans: He aint gonna start the year in the bigs is he, you always say it’s much more likely for a July callup. Therefore theres no point me promoting him when he gets, well promoted, because it means I have to offer him a contract in the upcoming offseason. Much better to wait till next year, get the free whole year, then offer the contract the next offseason.

            I’ve no idea if this is how keeper leagues with contracts usually work as its the only one I’ve ever been in, so apologies if this isn’t a common format and I sounded bigheaded :)

            So for my league anyway he aint gonna be ready to use till 2015 (unless he totally rakes in ST and the Cardinals have no option I guess).

            • TheNewGuy says:
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              @TheNewGuy: But you no prefer Baez over Buxton then, that what we saying?

              • TheNewGuy says:
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                @TheNewGuy: now*

              • Scott Evans

                Scott Evans says:
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                @TheNewGuy: Right now, if I’m re-ranking MiLB prospects for fantasy, it goes Taveras #1, Baez #2, Buxton #3, Bradley #4, Walker #5

            • Scott Evans

              Scott Evans says:
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              @TheNewGuy: If the Cards don’t re-sign Beltran, Oscar will likely begin the season in STL.

  5. sav says:
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    You can make that 16 homers at AA after his two Wednesday, part of a 4-4, 5 RBI night.

    • Scott Evans

      Scott Evans says:
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      @sav: This guy is unreal.

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