Results tagged ‘ Javier Baez ’

Baez, Soler impress this spring

The Future

Top prospects Jorge Soler and Javier Baez (far left) impressed in major league camp. (Photo by Stephen Green)

CBSSports.com baseball writer and MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has been following Spring Training around the majors all month long. On Monday, he wrote a piece highlighting the top 40 players he’s been impressed with since camps began a month ago.

Included on his list are elite prospects like the Phillies’ Dominic Brown, former high draft picks like the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole and high-priced non-drafted free agents like the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig. He also included a pair of Cubs players who have been making their names known in Arizona: Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.

Below is Heyman’s brief note about each prospect:

13. Javier Baez, Cubs SS: He was sent out after a homer streak. Has to be one of the very best prospects in baseball. Cubs are stacked at shortstop.

Baez concluded his spring with the major league club by hitting four home runs over his final weekend. The shortstop hit .302/.318/.628 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 44 plate appearances, driving in four. Baez was sent back to minor league camp Monday, where the organization is deciding what level to play him.

34. Jorge Soler, Cubs OF: He was drawing raves as an all-around player in Mesa, not just a power threat. The Cubs are doing a nice job building for the future.

Soler hit just .222/.282/.389 with a homer, a triple and a double in 39 plate appearances, but showed he can handle the outfield as well as the bat. The 21-year-old was sent to Single-A Daytona Monday.

Baez and Soler optioned to minor league camp

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

It had to happen sometime, but Cubs fans in Arizona will definitely miss seeing Javier Baez and Jorge Soler play on a regular basis. The Chicago Cubs have assigned seven players—including many of the organization’s top prospects—to minor league camp, reducing their spring roster from 53 to 46 players.

Infielders Junior Lake and Josh Vitters have been optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while infielder Christian Villanueva has been optioned to Double-A Tennessee. Outfielder Jorge Soler has been optioned to Single-A Daytona.

Three non-roster invitees have been assigned to minor league camp: right-handed pitcher Barret Loux, infielder Javier Baez and catcher Rafael Lopez.

“I’ll be honest, [at Spring Training] I look forward to the sixth through ninth innings more than I look forward to the first five innings,” said Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. “We’ll watch the veteran guys all year. … Getting a chance to see the young players up close is something we cherish because we can’t do that all season.”

Chicago’s spring roster now consists of 24 pitchers (eight non-roster invitees), four catchers (one non-roster invitee), nine infielders (four non-roster invitees) and nine outfielders (three non-roster invitees).

Baez back in lineup after monster weekend

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Javier Baez’s Spring Training stay with the Cubs looks like it’s coming to an end Monday night. With just a few weeks until Opening Day, the organization likely wants to start consolidating the players they feel are in serious consideration of a major league spot. Even though the 20-year-old has said on numerous occasions he feels he’s ready to contribute to the major league team right now, the phenom hasn’t even spent much time in Double-A. But that’s not to say he isn’t going down without a fight.

Baez had an incredible stretch at the plate over the weekend, including one point in which he hit three home runs on three straight pitches.

On Friday, a Cubs split-squad team squared off against Team Japan, a side competing in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic. With the game tied at five in the ninth, and a seventh-inning home run already to his name, Baez stepped up with a man on second. After falling behind 0-2, the shortstop ripped a slider over the fence for a walk-off, two-run homer. He had allegedly told Welington Castillo—who was on deck at the time—that he wouldn’t have to hit.

The next day Baez hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning, the Cubs’ fourth run of the game at that point. After a fly out in the third, Baez hit another solo shot to left in the fifth to wrap up his day.

He concluded the weekend with a pair of hits on Sunday, including a double and an RBI against the Athletics. Baez will bat fourth in what could be his final Spring Training game with the major league club on Monday.

Edwin Jackson will take the ball for the Cubs as they take on San Diego. The game starts at 3:05 CST and can be heard on Cubs.com. Clayton Richard will throw for the Padres. Here’s the lineup he’ll be facing:

CF Dave Sappelt
LF Darnell McDonald
RF Jorge Soler
SS Javier Baez
C Steve Clevenger
3B Edwin Maysonet
1B Brent Lillibridge
2B Alberto Gonzalez
P Edwin Jackson

Baez gets the start, Cubs demote six

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs fans shouldn’t read too much into it, though just the idea is mildly intriguing. Shortstop phenom Javier Baez will be in action Monday, playing in place of the injured Starlin Castro. And he’s penciled in alongside what many feel is going to be the Opening Day lineup (sans Anthony Rizzo, who boosted his Italian squad to the second round of the World Baseball Classic over the weekend).

Many publications—Vine Line is no exception—have followed the organization’s top prospect very closely of late. From his stellar season in High-A, to breaking his hand in the Arizona Fall League, to participating in the Cubs’ Rookie Development Program, to being invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, it’s all been well documented. Many scouting sites, like Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and ESPN, have named him an elite prospect and the top name in the Cubs system.

But while fans might be excited by Baez’s impressive spring (.360 AVG, two homers, 25 at-bats), it’s also been well documented how far away the Cubs feel he is at this stage of his career. On multiple occasions, manager Dale Sveum has lauded his abilities, but reminded reporters that Baez is only 20 years old and has some growing up to do.

Jeff Samardzija will get his third start of the spring as the Cubs go on the road to take on Arizona Monday afternoon. Righty Trevor Cahill will throw for the D-Backs. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10 CST, and the game can be heard on a free webcast at Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup Sveum has posted for Monday:

CF David DeJesus
2B Darwin Barney
RF Nate Schierholtz
LF Alfonso Soriano
3B Luis Valbuena
C Welington Castillo
SS Javier Baez
1B Steve Clevenger
P Jeff Samardzija

Cubs Notes: Rafael Lopez, Alberto Gonzalez, Christian Villanueva, Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Jorge Soler are also expected to get into the game Monday.

The Cubs sent pitchers Alberto Cabrera, Trey McNutt and Brooks Raley and infielder Logan Watkins to Triple-A Iowa; pitcher Robert Whitenack to Double-A Tennessee; and pitcher Nick Struck to minor league camp.

1000 Words: Baez joins the coaching staff

Coaches

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Top prospect Javier Baez gets a little extra coaching in Wednesday’s game against the Dodgers in Mesa, Ariz. In four spring games, the exciting, young shortstop is hitting .400 with one stolen base in 10 at-bats.

Scott Feldman set for Cubs debut

Feldman

(Photo by Stephen Green)

It seems like a new starting pitcher makes his Cubs debut every day. Both Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva got their first starts earlier this week. On Thursday, Scott Feldman will take his turn, as the North Siders host the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Stadium.

The right-hander, who signed a one-year deal this offseason, relishes the opportunity to crack the Cubs rotation. He has spent his entire career shuttling back and forth from the rotation to the bullpen, starting 101 of 204 games over his eight-year career. With Texas in 2012, Feldman was 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA in 123.2 innings.

His best season came in 2009, when he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA and struck out a career-high 113 batters over 189.2 innings. The 30-year-old has also won a pair of pennants in Texas’ back-to-back World Series trips in 2010-11.

Behind him will be an exciting team that includes two of the organization’s top prospects in Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. The shortstop Baez is going to see a bit more playing time with Starlin Castro out for the next 2-3 days nursing a tight hamstring. Despite being just 20 years old, many view Baez as one of the game’s most promising players. Soler, another elite-level prospect whose power bat has impressed this spring, will be playing right field.

First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 CST, and the game will be webcast at cubs.com. The Athletics will be sending lefty Brett Anderson to the hill. Here is the Cubs full batting order:

CF Dave Sappelt
2B Darwin Barney
DH Scott Hairston
LF Darnell McDonald
RF Jorge Soler
C Dioner Navarro
SS Javier Baez
1B Brent Lillibridge
3B Junior Lake

Cubs all over top half of Baseball Prospectus’ top prospects list

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(Photo by Jason Wise)

By now Cubs fans should know roughly where the organization’s top prospects stand when it comes to pitting them against the league’s best. Baseball stats website Baseball Prospectus unveiled its top 101 prospects Monday, which had a slight difference than its rival publication’s lists. The big four—Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Arodys Vizcaino—were all members of the list.

The surprise is that BP put Almora two spots ahead of Baez. While that shouldn’t at all come as a knock to the outfielder’s abilities, ESPN and Baseball America both had Baez largely ahead of the organization’s 2012 first round pick.

Almora came in at No. 18 overall, while Baez was 20th. Soler, the Cuban-born outfielder was ranked 36th, and power arm Vizcaino came in at No. 54.

Baseball Prospectus brought out its Cubs organizational rankings in November and predicted—amongst other things—the tools the player brings to the table, his fantasy future as well as where they feel the prospect will be in 2013. Below is the excerpt for each player.

Albert Almora
Position: OF
Overall Rank: 18
Major League ETA: 2016

The Tools: Shows all five; plus projections on hit/power

Fantasy Future: .290/.350/.450 from premium defensive position, with 10-15 home run pop, plenty of doubles, and a chance to steal 15-20 bases at a high success rate.

The Year Ahead: Almora will most likely jump to full-season ball, where he will play the majority of the year as a 19-year-old. The highly praised hit tool will be tested by more advanced pitching, and the aggressive approach will need to refine to avoid exploitation. With now skills and advanced feel, Almora should continue to progress up the prospect ranks, and has a chance to emerge as a top tier player in the minors if the solid-average skill-set plays up beyond its projection.

Javier Baez
Position: SS
Overall Rank: 20
Major League ETA: 2015

The Tools: Hit tool could be elite; easy plus-plus raw power; 7 arm

Fantasy Future: If everything clicks, Baez could hit for both a high average and high power (30-plus HR) from a position on the left side of the infield. He could be a monster.

The Year Ahead: Baez will most likely return to the Florida State League, where his aggressive approach led to weak contact and missed bats in his limited run in 2012. Pitchers at that level are equipped to expand the zone and sequence their arsenal, and Baez is a very see-ball, hit-ball type of hitter, so he will need to gain maturity with his approach to hitting; develop a plan at the plate. The raw talent could make him one of the best prospects in the minors, as he has the type of loud tools that impact games. But his overall approach is loose and hyperactive, and will need to find a balance between intensity and field intelligence to move forward.

Jorge Soler
Position: OF
Overall Rank: 36
Major League ETA: 2015

The Tools: Big raw power; plus arm

Fantasy Future: Could develop into a prototypical first-division right fielder; the hit tool might only play at average, but secondary skills should allow for some on-base ability and game power (25-20 HR). Shows good speed for his size and good game awareness, so he could also swipe 10-15 bases a season.

The Year Ahead: Soler was said to be ready for full-season ball out of the chute, and those reports proved to be accurate. The soon-to-be 21-year-old Cuban has plenty of bat speed and power characteristics in the swing (loft, back spin, etc.), but the present utility of the hit tool will be tested against better pitching, and the correctable hitches in the swing mechanics will need to be ironed out; Soler would often struggle to keep his hands inside and his early extension would leave him open to quality stuff on the inner half. If the hit tool is stronger than we are giving it credit for, the offensive upside will be very impressive, as Soler will profile as a middle-of-the-order force at the major-league level.

Arodys Vizcaino
Position: RHP
Overall Rank: 54
Major League ETA: 2011

The Tools: Plus-plus fastball; plus curve

Fantasy Future: Could be frontline setup arm in bullpen; closer for some teams; will miss bats in any role.

The Year Ahead: The return from Tommy John can be slow, and the command/control components are usually the last to arrive. If the raw stuff remains post-surgery, the Cubs can be patient with the fireballer until the control returns, leaving Vizcaino in Triple-A until he is ready to take the next step at the major-league level. While his role in 2013 will most likely be in a rotation, Vizcaino’s long-term role will most likely come in high-leverage situations out of the ‘pen, where his plus-plus heat and power curve have a chance to make him one of the better setup men in the game.

1000 Words: Is this the future?

The Future

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Second baseman Darwin Barney gets to know (from left) Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Christian Villanueva. Soler, a Cuban defector who turns 21 years old today, has impressed with his all-around game early in camp. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound outfielder has shown patience at the plate, ridiculous bat speed, strong defense and solid baserunning.

Shortstop Baez has been named by many publications as the No. 1 prospect in the system, and third baseman Villanueva was a key piece of the Ryan Dempster deal last season.

Now Playing: Top prospects on the rise in Mesa

Every season at the outset of Spring Training, organizations invite their top prospects to big league camp. The benefits are twofold: the prospects gain valuable experience watching how major leaguers prepare for the season, and coaches and staff get an opportunity to watch future contributors firsthand.

Top prospect Javier Baez, minor league player of the year Logan Watkins, minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck, Brett Jackson, Cuban import Jorge Soler and many others have spent the first few weeks of camp with the Cubs’ major league club. This week, Vine Line talked to some of the talented young players who are trying to make a name for themselves in Mesa.

Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series:

Mesa Cubscast: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 2

Mesa Cubscast: The Cubs Core

Mesa Cubscast: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 1

Mesa Cubscast: The New Guys

Mesa Cubscast: The Coaching Staff

Cubs vs. Cubs, white team takes down blue 7-3

Game-1

The Cubs season is officially underway. After a few weeks of workouts, batting practice and bullpen sessions, the team cranked it up to game speed in a blue vs. white intrasquad matchup Thursday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium. The veteran-laden white team took down the top prospects in the system 7-3 in a five-inning affair.

After a rainy day yesterday in Arizona—it even snowed in some areas—the grounds crew spent most of the morning getting the HoHoKam field back in playing shape. But by game time, things had dried out.

The white team got off to a fast start off blue team starter Chris Rusin in the first. After a David DeJesus groundout, Starlin Castro doubled, Anthony Rizzo walked and Alfonso Soriano singled to load the bases. New Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro followed with a single, and third baseman Ian Stewart laced a ringing double to left center to put the white team up 4-0.

Shortstop Starlin Castro, who many expect to have a big year in 2013, got off to a good start with the bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.

“Castro put two good swings and then just missed another really nice swing down the right field line,” said manager Dale Sveum. “That’s obviously one guy we really don’t have to be concerned with when the numbers are all done. That guy can just hit.”

Though the white team boasted most of the projected Opening Day starters, the blue team might have been the more interesting group, as it was loaded with many of the organization’s top prospects, including Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Brett Jackson.

And Soler didn’t disappoint. The left fielder gave Cubs fans a glimpse of the future when he crushed a soaring home run to left off minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck in his first at-bat of the game. Soler also walked and made a good play coming in on a ball in left. Mind you, it was only an intrasquad, five-inning game and he was hitting off a minor league pitcher, but Soler certainly made a good impression.

“Pretty nice bat speed you saw,” Sveum said. “Those were some good at-bats—took a walk. … That guy following him up (Baez) had some pretty good bat speed going through the strike zone too—as well as Lake. There are some guys who are on that radar right now that could possibly be impact players some day.”

Top-ranked shortstop prospect Baez, who batted in the seven hole, had a little more of an up-and-down game. He struck out in the second and was robbed by Castro, who ranged to his left for a diving catch, in the fourth. On defense, he made a diving play of his own to rob David DeJesus of a single, but also got eaten up by Navarro’s single in the first.

“Baez was a little shaky today,” Sveum said. “Kind of some young stuff that’s still there that’s got to be cleaned up. [There's] a lot of stuff, even stuff that’s behind the scenes that everybody else doesn’t see, that we have to change—some instinctive stuff.”

New Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz homered in the bottom of the third inning and had an RBI sac fly for the white team. Brian Bogusevic, an Oak Lawn, Ill., native who spent the last three years with the Houston Astros, also homered for the blue team.

Following the game, Sveum announced that third baseman Ian Stewart, who was pulled from the game in the second inning, was day-to-day with a mild—emphasis on mild—left quad strain. Josh Vitters is also day-to-day with the same injury.

“It’s an epidemic,” Sveum joked.

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