Cubs prospects Javier Baez, Jorge Soler have had their days in the sun
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com March 9, 2013 9:24PM
Shortstop Javier Baez ripped four hits in a row over two games. “I’m ready for whatever [the Cubs] want me to do,” he said. | Charlie Riedel~AP
Two for the show, but not yet
ss Javier Baez
Baseball America prospect ranking: 16
MLB.com prospect ranking: 16
OF Jorge Soler
Baseball America prospect ranking: 34
MLB.com prospect ranking: 42
Updated: April 11, 2013 7:11AM
MESA, Ariz. — Get your last looks at top Cubs prospects Javy Baez and Jorge Soler while you can.
Despite impressive play from both this spring, manager Dale Sveum said the touted twosome is headed to the minor-league side of camp in the next week or so, regardless of performance. And he said it might be next spring before they show up again in a Cubs uniform.
“They’re so raw, they just have to play so many more baseball games before they’re ready for this kind of big-league pitching every day,” said Sveum, who also said the former first-round draft pick and the marquee Cuban free agent have been as good as advertised.
“Soler has been impressive to where he doesn’t just go up there swinging. He’s got a pretty good idea and lays off a lot of borderline pitches. And it’s pretty impressive how poised he is in the outfield.”
Soler, a late-inning replacement Saturday against the Cleveland Indians, made a nice running catch to end the top of the ninth.
Baez, drafted ninth overall in 2011, had the bigger day. He hit a two-run homer to left in the first and singled to right in the third for four hits in a row over two games. He is tied for the team lead in homers (two) and RBI (six) this spring.
But despite the first impressions and cries among some fans to give both a shot at the roster, Sveum said they are not long for camp.
“They’re going to have to go down here fairly soon, maybe after [Sunday], or before,” he said.
“They have to go down and start playing every single day because our main guys are going to start playing so many more innings here.”
Baez is expected to open the season at advanced Class A Daytona; Soler at Class A Kane County.
Sveum said as good as both seem to be, don’t count on either landing in Chicago when rosters expand in September.
“Let’s all see what happens in the production this year and how they do,” he said, “but I personally don’t see it happening.”
Said Baez: “I’m ready for whatever they want me to do. They know I can play the game, and I’ve still got to learn a lot of things.”
NOTES: Third baseman Ian Stewart’s “cram session” to make the club could start Friday. He has been sidelined with a quad injury since his first at-bat in an intrasquad game last month.
Stewart would have two weeks to show enough at the plate to keep the Cubs from releasing him at the end of spring training and saving $1.5 million of his $2 million contract.
◆ Because of rehab time lost to inclement weather Friday, Starlin Castro (hamstring) and Brent Lillibridge (groin) are eyeing returns after the day off Tuesday. Both were considered possible for Monday.
◆ Gold Glove second baseman Darwin Barney, who fell awkwardly on his right shoulder leaping for a line drive Friday, was fine Saturday, Sveum said. He was in the lineup Sunday.
INDIANS 9, CUBS 2
FOR STARTERS: Left-hander Chris Rusin, who had his scheduled work pushed back a day because of heavy rain Friday, started and pitched three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out one. He has allowed one run in eight innings (three appearances) and is expected to open the season at Class AAA Iowa as rotation depth.
HIT MAN JAVY: Top prospect Javy Baez hit a two-run homer to left in the first to account for all the Cubs’ runs. He added a single in the third, giving him four consecutive hits over two games. The shortstop is 9-for-25 (.360) and tied for the team lead in homers (two) and RBI (six). But he’s headed to the minor-league side of camp in about a week and is expected to open the season at advanced Class A Daytona.
PEN MIGHTER: The three pitchers in the game projected into the Cubs’ bullpen — James Russell, Shawn Camp and Kyuji Fujikawa — combined to allow one run over the final 31/3 innings after minor-league starters Brooks Raley and Alberto Cabrera were roughed up in the middle innings. Fujikawa was perfect in the ninth, striking out two.
ON DECK: San Diego Padres at Cubs, HoHoKam Stadium, 3:05 p.m. (live audio at cubs.com), Scott Feldman vs. Jason Marquis.