Cubs are in no hurry to rush SS Javy Baez to the big leagues
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 22, 2013 10:16PM
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
Updated: September 24, 2013 6:38AM
Can’t wait to see Javy Baez make his Cubs’ debut?
Too bad. The patience game the Cubs are playing with fans also includes the club’s top stud hitting prospect — a power-hitting shortstop who has pounded Southern League pitching since being promoted to Class AA last month.
While the Cubs front office and field staff have talked about the players they might add from the farm system when rosters expand in September, the most talked-about player that fans want to see won’t be one of them.
Baez, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 draft and the Cubs’ top prospect, hit home runs 32 and 33 on Wednesday night for AA Tennessee and drove in five runs to raise his season total to 100 — numbers that lead the Cubs’ organization in both categories.
“It’s really impressive,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Baez’s combined production in 76 games for advanced-A Daytona and 43 at Tennessee. “Sometimes guys do put you in situations where you do start thinking about it, but those are obviously questions that have to be dealt with by [GM] Jed [Hoyer] and [president] Theo [Epstein].
“But I don’t see it happening.”
Baez isn’t on the 40-man roster, and the Cubs have no intention of rushing his service-time clock just to get a big-league look at the kid on a team that still is multiple — three? four? — years from competing.
“Obviously, we’re strapped with the roster and all that. … I don’t see anybody coming up that’s not on the roster,” Sveum said, “except maybe a catcher.”
The biggest additions figure to be the returns from injury of outfielder Ryan Sweeney (rib fracture), third baseman Luis Valbuena (oblique) and possibly pitcher Scott Baker (Tommy John surgery).
But the business decisions don’t discount the kind of year Baez, 20, has had in just his second full year of professional ball.
He’s second among all minor leaguers in home runs to only Houston Astros outfield prospect George Springer (36 combined at AA and AAA). And he ranks fifth in the minors in RBIs, six behind leader Adam Walker from the Minnesota Twins system (106 for Class A Cedar Rapids).
“It’s hard to do in 142 games. Remember, we get 20 more games than they do,” Sveum said. “It’s an incredibly impressive year, especially what he’s done in AA, because that’s where a lot of good prospects, a lot of good pitching, is.”
Baez has taken off since his promotion to AA — hitting .307 with 16 of his homers, 43 RBIs and a 1.025 OPS in the 43 games there.
Sveum downplayed third-base coach David Bell’s hesitation and mistake on the final play of Wednesday night’s game that led to Anthony Rizzo winding up in no-man’s land for an easy out.
The Cubs, who lost 11-6, would have had the bases loaded if Rizzo had been held up on the single to left.
“It’s unfortunate that things like that happen sometimes,” Sveum said. “Obviously, it’s magnified a little bit at the end of the game like that. … You’d like to have things back sometimes. As a third base coach, we’ve all done it, stuff like that.”
◆ Luis Valbuena is scheduled to start taking batting practice off coaches in Mesa, Ariz., Saturday, the same day Sweeney starts a quick minor-league rehab assignment with Mesa’s Arizona rookie-league team.
◆ Scott Baker, who continues to have trouble staying on a regular pitching schedule because of weather issues, has been transferred to Class A Kane County to continue his rehab assignment. His next start is Friday.
◆ After Anthony Rizzo’s two-homer game Wednesday on his first night batting second, Sveum was asked how long he’d keep him there. “I’m not going to move success,” he said.