It is not everyday that you see a performance like this.
On Monday night, Chicago Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez slugged four home runs in a game for the Daytona Cubs, the Class-A affiliate of the Cubs. Before the season, Baez was ranked the 16th best prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America. While he did struggle a bit to start the season, Baez has been destroying the baseball recently and is proving why many scouts consider him to be a top-of-the-line prospect.
In 57 games at Daytona this season, Baez is hitting .291/.339/.570 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs. With the young shortstop starting to turn things around, I expect those numbers to continue to rise rapidly.
Baez was selected in the first round (ninth overall) by the Cubs in 2011. As his 133 career strikeouts compared to 25 walks indicates, the free-swinging Baez has struggled early in his professional career with plate discipline. There is no doubt that he has to work on that and is erratic defense before he is ready to reach the big leagues.
That being said, his bat is legit. Baez has arguably the best bat speed in all of minor league baseball and that helps him generate an incredible amount of power with his bat. While his defense and plate discipline are concerning, the raw skills are there for Baez to be a star.
The Cubs minor league system has grown significantly over the past few years, and Baez is on top of the list. With the recent addition of 2013 no. 2 overall pick Kris Bryant to an already impressive group of offensive prospects including Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler, the Cubs arguably have more offensive talent in their minor league system than any other team.
Soler, Almora and Bryant all appear to be safer bets to make the majors than Baez, but none have the raw upside of the young shortstop. If Baez grows and actually reaches his potential, watch out, because we could be watching one of the all-time greats.