Results tagged ‘ Javier Baez ’

Baez back in lineup after monster weekend


(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 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


(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 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


(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


(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 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


(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


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.

Cactus Notes: Sveum on Fitch, leadership and the future


A steady rain drowned out most of the final day of Cubs baseball at Fitch Park on Wednesday, but there was still a little news.

The Cubs announced the starters for the opening games of their Cactus League slate, which kicks off this weekend. Travis Wood will get the Saturday start against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, and Jeff Samardzija will pitch the Sunday home opener against the San Francisco Giants. Carlos Villanueva will pitch Game 3 on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Edwin Jackson will start on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.

Matt Garza’s debut has been pushed back due to a mild lat strain on his left side. It was announced Tuesday that he’ll likely be out about a week before resuming baseball activities.

Manager Dale Sveum also held his daily presser, despite the lack of on-field action. Here are Sveum’s best quotes from the day:

Then vs. Now
“We have a lot of the same guys in camp [from a year ago] that ended getting some time in the big leagues. But like I said yesterday, there’s just a whole different look in their eyes. Having that experience and going through some adversity with some of the young guys, it’s a whole lot different. There’s just so much more talent in camp this year than there was last year—and also depth. Guys that are very capable of pitching in the big leagues or guys that are on our radar getting really close to the big leagues. … There’s just more playable talent in camp this year.”

Leaving Fitch
“Spring Training is what it is in any park. Here it’s a little bit unique because you have to move [from Fitch to HoHoKam]. Probably my first memory here is when I had to come over here 25 years ago and rehab my leg clear across from Peoria [in extended Spring Training]. We shared it with the Cubs at that time.”

Prospect Watch (Javy Baez, Jorge Soler, Junior Lake, etc.)
“We have so many split-squad games they’re going to get quite a few games in before being sent down. There are a lot of at-bats out there.”

“I’m very anxious [to see them]. Those are the guys you talk about that are on your radar in the minor league systems that have all those God-given tools—the speed, the arm, the power, hopefully the hitting ability, meaning OPS and those things. A lot of that stuff comes a little bit later in careers. But it’s pretty special talent and bat speed those guys have. You want to see it in person and at game speed.”

Veteran Leadership
“We do have some personalities that are able to fill those [leadership] roles. I think [Anthony] Rizzo is one of those guys. I think [Darwin] Barney is ready to be that guy. Obviously Rizzo’s rookie year and Barney winning a Gold Glove—those kinds of things give you added ability to be a leader in the clubhouse because people look up to people like that. We have [Alfonso] Soriano, and [Jeff] Samardzija is going to take on that role, as well as [Matt] Garza and Edwin Jackson. So we have plenty of personalities that can do that.”

Building for the Future
“Going into this last year, you knew the plan we had, and we weren’t going to take any shortcuts to vary from it. Within a year, the whole organization has changed so dramatically for the good. You just get better players in the organization, and you create an atmosphere where people want to play here, and they want to come to this ballpark and work. That’s all you can do. That’s the transformation we’re trying to do all the time here. And it’s changed a ton in a year.”

Cubs scattered throughout BA’s Top 100 prospects


Cubs minor leaguers Albert Almora and Jorge Soler were both ranked on Baseball America‘s top 100 prospects list.
(Photo by Stephen Green)

February is the month when most baseball prospect lists are unveiled and displayed for all to see. On Tuesday afternoon, Baseball America released its Top 100 Prospects list—and gave Cubs fans another reason for optimism.

Slugging shortstop Javier Baez, currently in major league camp with the Cubs, heads the quartet of North Siders on the list, coming in at No. 16. The 2011 first-round pick played his first full season in 2012, hitting .294/.346/.543 (AVG/OBP/SLG) at two Single-A levels and mashing 16 home runs. He is the third-highest shortstop prospect on the list. Baseball America is the first major publication to put Baez ahead of Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, a fellow shortstop picked one spot ahead of Baez in the 2011 draft. The publication also rated Baez the most exciting player in the Midwest League last season.

Last year’s first-round pick Albert Almora was ranked No. 33, one spot ahead of 2012 signee Jorge Soler. Almora joined an exciting Short-Season Boise squad late into the year and hit .292 in 65 plate appearances. The 18-year-old former Team USA player is heralded for his feel for the game, especially at such a young age.

Despite still assimilating himself to American culture after coming over from Cuba, Soler managed to crush Single-A pitching last year, hitting .338/.398/.513 in 80 at-bats in 2012. Known for his power at the plate and strong arm in the outfield, the massive 21-year-old projects to be a right fielder. Soler is currently working out with the major league squad in Mesa, Ariz., and is on the 40-man roster.

Arodys Vizcaino, who came over in the Paul Maholm trade with Atlanta last summer, rounds out the Cubs representatives at No. 83. This year marks the fourth straight time the right-hander has been ranked on Baseball America’s list. BA voted Vizcaino the organization’s best fastball and curveball after 2012, despite the fact that he missed the season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Though he will be eased back slowly, expect to see the power arm playing at Wrigley Field sooner rather than later.

The Cubs had four players on the list last year: Brett Jackson (32), Anthony Rizzo (47), Baez (61) and Matt Szczur (64).


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