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Javier Baez: Rookies, Prospects and Recent Call-Ups Evaluation


Recent MLB Prospect Call-Ups

Top MLB prospect Javier Baez has been called up to The Show, and made his major league debut last night for Chicago Cubs . Although he's one of many top prospects in Chicago’s loaded farm system, Baez has plenty of hype behind him and big upside for the future.

Along with the recent trade of starting second baseman Darwin Barney, and the moving of Arismendy Alcantara to the outfield, the writing was on the wall that Baez would be making his debut sooner rather than later. Last night we saw that happen. Although Baez only went 1-for-6 in his debut, to go along with three strikeouts, he made a big impact as well hitting a game-winning 414 foot home run in the top of the 12th inning. Not too bad for your first day on the job.


Who is Javier Baez

By Nick Martinez (Javier Baez 9) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsBaez, the #9 overall pick in the 2011 MLB draft, will most likely make up an infield of top MLB prospects for a long time including himself, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant and the recently traded for Addison Russell. Despite Castro, Russell and Baez all being shortstops, there should be plenty of wiggle room at 2B and 3B for everybody to get playing time. So with Baez likely to be playing every day at second base the last two months of the MLB season, what can we expect out of his first taste of the majors?

I hate calling guys five tool players when they aren’t, but Baez definitely has the ability to contribute in all aspects of the game. More to come on this shortly. But there are areas to keep an eye on as well. For starters, Baez strikes out a ton. This year in the minors, Baez struck out a whopping 130 times in just 388 ABs. This could be an area of concern in the majors, as the pitchers are better and they will exploit weaknesses in hitters. As noted by Scott Strandberg of FanGraphs, there might be a kink in Baez’s offensive armor:

“Pretty much the only knock on Baez’s offensive profile coming into this season was his difficulty to adjust to breaking balls, partially as a result of his aggressive approach. He hasn’t gotten less aggressive (7.9% BB-rate, 30.0% K-rate in 2013, 7.9% BB-rate, 28.8% K-rate in 2014) — but it seems like breaking balls aren’t giving him the tough time that they used to.” Basically, even though he might have had issues with the off-speed pitches, that hasn’t changed his game and he has adapted properly. Hopefully we will see the same adjustments at the big league level for the remainder of the 2014 season.


2014 & Long-Term Fantasy Baseball Outlook

Looking at just speed/power/contact, you know, the parts that matter in fantasy baseball, Baez could be a great addition off the waiver wire to your fantasy teams in any format. He has hit .272 over his last two years in the minors, with a combined 43 HR and 24 SB. Add to that his 64 Runs and 80 RBIs this year in AAA. Baez’s hype isn’t smoke and mirrors, it’s based on legit skill, which is why so many people have had him on their list of sleepers for fantasy baseball.

Baez’s .323 OBP this year in the minors wasn’t great, mostly because of his low walk total (34 total in AAA). But he makes up for the lack of walks with a stellar .510 SLG, to form a very respectable .833 OPS. While I'd expect an obvious decline in some capacity at the major league level, when dealing with a big upgrade in opposing pitching, his power numbers and overall production was high enough in the minors that the expected drop-off in production in the bigs should not be a major concern. He still has massive upside, and the potential to produce for fantasy baseball owners for years to come, especially when you have him slotted in your 2B or SS slot.

As mentioned in previous articles of mine, most MLB prospects have a bumpy transition period when first being promoted to higher levels. Baez is no different, as he experienced a decline in his numbers when moving up through each division of the minors. For example, while Baez batted .292 during the month of July in AAA (his best month by far), his April ended with a dreadful .172 AVG. That was his first taste of AAA. When being promoted to AA in July of 2013, he started out with a .228 AVG for the month before eventually improving to a .357 AVG in August. I’m not saying these numbers imply that you shouldn’t be adding him to your fantasy baseball teams, especially in deeper leagues, but they may be good indicators of what we can expect as Baez adjusts to major league pitching. Just be prepared to move him back to your bench if he starts hurting your team down the fantasy home stretch.

Let me say this: I love Javier Baez. I firmly believe that this MLB prospect and top talent is going to be around for a long time producing for the Cubs and fantasy owners. I also love the idea of him already being a SS/2B option, giving him massive upside for fantasy leagues. And who knows, he may even see some time at 3B depending on how the team wants to stretch him out this year before really letting him loose in 2015. For this season, I would definitely be adding Baez to your fantasy baseball teams if you have holes in your middle infield, are looking for power upside, or have some bench space to spare. If you are in a keeper or dynasty league, and he is somehow still available, go grab him immediately. Just make sure to watch him closely over the next couple of weeks, and make sure he is helping your team down the stretch more than he is hurting it. Hopefully the late inning heroics that we saw last night are a sign of big things to come for Baez, the Cubs and fantasy baseball owners.


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