Javier Baez has had an incredible season. He started off the year with the High-A Daytona Cubs before getting called up to the Double-A Tennesse Smokies. The Chicago Cubs‘ shortstop prospect is hitting .282/.341/.578 with 37 home runs and 111 RBI between the two levels, and he also chipped in 20 stolen bases in 24 attempts for good measure.
While Baez was very good in High-A, he has been even better at the Double-A level, where his slugging percentage is a very impressive .638. Baez has hit 20 home runs since being promoted, which is good for 4th in the Southern League. He has done this in only 218 at bats. The league leader has 24 home runs, and the three guys ahead of him have 446, 439 and 481 at bats respectively. Basically, Baez has put up the same power numbers as the league leaders in only half of the at-bats, and at only 20-years-old, he is one of the youngest players in Double-A. This guy is simply incredible.
Baez is a very raw prospect, but the talent is obvious. He has incredible bat speed that generates easy power. The ball simply makes a different noise coming off of his bat. He is an extremely athletic player that shows good speed at times. That being said, many scouts expect Baez to get bigger as he gets older, and that may make him lose a step or two. Regardless, Baez is an extremely talented player.
The most impressive thing about Baez this season has been his approach at the plate. He was known as a free-swinger that struck out way too much and hardly walked at all. This season, Baez has seemed to do a much better job of being selective at the plate. Cubs’ president Theo Epstein is a huge fan of players who work the count, and I think the Cubs have told Baez to be more selective at the plate. So far so good, as he has shown a huge improvement this season in that department. Baez will always have that free swinging mentality, but it is certainly nice to see him improve his pitch selection.
With his obvious raw skills and ability to be more selective at the plate, I think Baez is now one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins is the consensus No. 1 prospect, and I cannot argue with that – the guy is incredible. After that, guys like Miguel Sano, Oscar Tavares and Carlos Correa are in the discussion. After what I have seen out of Baez this season, I think he deserves to be in the discussion after Buxton. The sky is the limit for Baez and he will be near the top of all the prospect lists next season.
It may not be long before his elite skills are at the major league level, and that is something for Cub fans to look forward to.