2011 draft review: Going on the offensive

Javier Baez

The following is condensed from Chris Gigley’s 2011 draft review for the July issue of Vine Line. Subscribers get monthly updates on the minor leagues, including player profiles and in-depth features on baseball and life down on the farm. (Javier Baez photo courtesy of Aflac All-American Tournament)

After Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken’s surprise first-round choice of right-hander Hayden Simpson last year, he used his first pick this year on a shortstop, Javier Baez, despite having one of the game’s best, Starlin Castro, already in the majors.

“He has such an advanced bat,” Wilken said of Baez. “His ability to play at numerous positions also made him attractive. We’re going to let him determine where he plays.”

Baez’s bat and build profile better at third base, where he could one day slide into the lineup next to Castro. Baez stands 6 feet 1 and weighs 205, and shows the kind of bat speed that has earned him comparisons to former big league slugger Gary Sheffield. The Puerto Rico native moved to Florida in 2005 and still needs to work on his English. The Cubs think his game, however, translates just fine in the U.S.

Wilken’s focus stayed in Florida for the next two picks, selecting prep first baseman Daniel Vogelbach in the second round and University of Miami outfielder Ezekiel DeVoss with the third pick.

Vogelbach is another intriguing player. Although he is not a premium athlete, he is a premium power hitter. He slugged 17 home runs in 32 games for Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers and drove a 508-foot home run at a showcase last December.

July 2011 Vine Line CoverDeVoss is a 5-foot-10, 175-pound, switch-hitting outfielder who was one of the best players in Miami’s lineup this spring. He led the Hurricanes in hitting (.340), walks (57) and runs scored (59), but his speed (32 steals) stands out.

“I’m really happy things fell the way they did,” Wilken said. “We know our negatives in this organization. We’re addressing them. This was the year when it really made sense to draft these three young men.

“But I’ll feel a lot better once we get them signed,” he added. “I feel like we have a chance to really add to the organizational depth in our system. Possibly, this time we got higher-end quality to go with what we’ve produced in the last three or four years.”

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