There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Chicago Cubs top prospect Javier Baez. After back-to-back two-homer performances, Baez’s spring training stats include a .324 batting average with four homers and a 1.049 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). That doesn’t include the Mar. 15 game against Japan. Baez has produced against pitchers who have experience at the international and MLB levels.
Baez isn’t projected to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster until September 2014 at the earliest. He’s expected to start this season at Single-A Daytona. He’d probably finish the season at Double-A Tennessee before he completes a full season of at-bats at Triple-A Iowa in 2014. That sets him up for a late-2014 deadline.
That hasn’t kept some fans from wanting to expedite the process. With the glaring weakness at third base with Luis Valbuena and the unreliable Ian Stewart, one may argue that Baez would give them the most production at third base—right now. Starlin Castro was only 20 years old when he earned his first call up in May 2010. In 2012, Bryce Harper was 19 years old. Why can’t Baez succeed at age 20?
It’s simple to fall into that misguided train of thought. The reality is that there’s no reason for management to rush Baez on the 25-man roster. He has plenty of things he can develop while he’s playing in Single-A or Double-A this season. Some of those things include developing plate discipline and possibly learning to play a new infield position.
What’s the rush? Let him tear it up in the minors. The MLB team isn’t ready to contend for much more than getting out of the National League Central cellar. Baez must learn to take pitches because when the games start meaning something, pitchers won’t give him four meatballs in seven attempts.
Maybe we’re speaking differently when Opening Day 2014 rolls around.