Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was just 20-years-old when he made his MLB debut on May 7, 2010. After getting called up from the Double-A Tennessee Smokies, Castro hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat. He also had a three-run triple and six RBI in a 14-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
That was the start of what appears like a promising career. Maybe Javier Baez can do something similar? At age 20, Baez received his first non-roster invitation to spring training. He joins a list of 22 players that include Casey Coleman, Brent Lillibridge and Darnell McDonald.
Baez projects as a shortstop or third baseman. One of the Cubs’ main concerns is how much production they’ll get from their third basemen. Luis Valbuena and Ian Stewart should platoon in that role. Their lack of production may force management to speed up the development process for Baez. Management shouldn’t sign any free-agent third basemen beyond a one-year contract or it’ll block Baez.
Realistically, Baez has no chance at making the team out of spring training. The Cubs won’t prematurely start his arbitration clock in what’s basically a lost season. Just last season, Baez struggled in the Class-A Florida State League. While dealing with Anthony Rizzo, Theo Epstein suggested that prospects should play 162 games at Triple-A. Of course, Josh Vitters played just 110 games before he was promoted last season.
2014 is an estimated time of arrival for Baez. However, if Baez plays well and the Cubs get minimal production from their third basemen, it’s possible that he gets called up around August.