While following the Chicago Cubs’ minor league teams and prospects is always enjoyable, and has certainly been aided by Luke’s excellent work, it’s hard to argue that it didn’t feel like something was missing. Namely: all those big-time kids the Cubs selected and signed out of the 2011 Draft. Javier Baez, Dillon Maples, Dan Vogelbach, Shawon Dunston, Jr., etc. Where are they?
Well, as you no doubt know, they’ve been working away in Mesa, Arizona at the Cubs’ extended Spring Training, patiently awaiting short-season Boise (Low A Ball) or for the Arizona Rookie League to get underway in June.
But, according to Phil Rogers, one of that group is going to get his season going earlier – and at a higher level – than maybe expected. Shortstop Javier Baez, the Cubs’ top pick in 2011, will be assigned to A-ball Peoria, and will make his 2012 debut this weekend, says Rogers.
Baez has been killing the ball in Arizona (as of May 20, he had a .329/.354/.696 line in extended Spring Training, according to Arizona Phil at TCR (remember, though, extended Spring Training stats aren’t to taken for much)), and apparently the Cubs felt they didn’t need to wait until mid-June to assign Baez to a team. We’ll see how he fares in Peoria, but it’s possible he’ll be “demoted” back down to Boise when their season starts. It’s possible that’s where he’s always been ticketed, but the Cubs just want to get him some action now. In other words, don’t be discouraged if that move happens next month. If it doesn’t, all the better.
Baez is roundly considered one of the Cubs’ top three prospects, together with Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson, and is also roundly considered a top 100 prospect in the game. He’s got a great swing and is supremely athletic, but his defense at shortstop is uneven (and he’s a big kid, calling into question his defensive future).
The promotion won’t actually mark Baez’s professional debut, as he got in a handful of games late last year after he signed with the Cubs in August.