Results tagged ‘ Javier Baez ’
Javier Baez went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI in his Arizona Fall League debut. (Photo by Rodger Wood)
Things couldn’t have started much better for the Cubs top prospects in the Arizona Fall League yesterday. Though the Solar Sox dropped the 6-5 opener to the Salt River Rafters Tuesday night, much of Mesa’s offense came from Cubs representatives.
Nobody had a better outing than shortstop Javier Baez, who got things going in the top of the second inning with a home run to center to make the game 1-0. Later in the game, Baez ripped a double into left, scoring two.
Leadoff man Matt Szczur was 0-for-2, but drew a pair of walks and dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to second in his second at-bat. Pinch-hitter Rubi Silva led off the eighth inning with a single that got by the shortstop. Three batters later he would score to give the Solar Sox the 5-4 lead.
Even in limited action, Cubs pitchers fared well. Right-handed reliever Kevin Rhoderick gave up one hit and struck out three in 1.2 innings while righty fireballer Tony Zych struck out the only batter he faced in the ninth.
The Solar Sox have their home opener Wednesday at 12:35 local time. Again they’ll face Salt River, a team comprised of prospects from the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Rockies, Blue Jays and Nationals.
Solar Sox Notes: According to MLB.com, Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig will sit out the Solar Sox season with a staph infection in his right arm. He is rated the organization’s No. 2 prospect.
The month-long Arizona Fall League kicks off tomorrow night, pitting some of minor league baseball’s top young talent against each other through Nov. 15. Seven members of the Cubs organization will take part in the league with the Mesa Solar Sox. When the teams were announced in late August, Vine Line broke down the Cubs representatives. The Solar Sox will also include prospects from the Astros, Dodgers, Orioles and Tigers. Below is a list of the pitchers and position players, as well as how they fared during the 2012 season.
Pitchers: Astros prospect Jarred Cosart is the most highly touted arm on Mesa’s staff. Ranked the 76th-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, the 38th-round draft pick has a fastball that can reach the high-90s with a solid curve and the beginnings of a great change-up. Fellow Houston farmhand Nick Tropeano had a solid 2012, posting a 3.02 ERA over 158 innings. The righty features a plus change-up, complemented by a nice fastball and slider. Orioles lefty Mike Belfiore made the transition to the bullpen in 2011, maximizing his strong fastball/change-up combination. The lone arm to see the majors this year was Tigers righty Luke Putkonen, who is from the Chicago suburb of Winfield. The 6-6, 210-pounder pitched in 12 games out of the Detroit bullpen, striking out 10 in 16 innings and posting a 3.94 ERA.
Catchers: Tigers farmhand James McCann headlines the trio of catchers playing for Mesa. A solid leader, McCann recorded 22 doubles this season and has a decent arm. He also recorded five stolen bases, which is nothing to scoff at for a catcher.
Infielders: The strength of the Solar Sox comes from the infield corps, which includes top Cubs prospect Javier Baez. It will be interesting to see where Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos sees time. With Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera locked in at third for the Tigers, the top third base prospect in baseball saw a lot of time in the outfield this season. Astros first baseman John Singleton is a smooth-swinging lefty who hits for average and power, as evidenced by his 21 homers and 27 doubles in 2012. Singleton, seen as baseball’s top first base prospect, also has a solid glove.
Outfielders: There will be a lot of eyes on Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig this fall. In June, the Dodgers front office paid $42 million over seven years for the 21-year-old Cuban defector. Known for his raw power, Puig often draws comparisons to Cubs prospect Jorge Soler. Free-swinging Astros prospect George Springer still managed to hit .302 and draw 62 walks in 2012, while hitting 24 home runs and driving in 87. The five-tool prospect also stole 32 bases.
Outfielder Matt Szczur stole 38 bases for Daytona in 2012. (Photo by Rodger Wood)
Today we continue our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The high Class-A Daytona Cubs are next in the spotlight.
They may have dropped from Florida State League champions to last place, but the Daytona Cubs featured several intriguing position prospects worth keeping an eye on. And it’s the continued development of that talent that’s going to be vital for the Chicago Cubs in the coming years.
Chief among them is Javier Baez, who spent the last month of the season in Daytona Beach. He’s become the organization’s quickest climber since being drafted out of high school in 2011. Since his mid-August signing last summer, Baez has played in four different leagues—at the Rookie and three Class-A levels. (He spent the season’s first two months in extended Spring Training before resuming his rapid ascent.) Though Baez batted just .188 in 86 plate appearances for Daytona, he ended the year with two home runs in the finale to bring his season total to 16 (12 with Peoria) in 80 games. That evidence of his plus bat speed, as well as his overall athleticism and competitiveness, puts him as baseball’s 23rd-best prospect and fourth-best shortstop in Jonathan Mayo’s end-of-season rankings at MLB.com.
To Baez’s right, third baseman Christian Villanueva was an important midseason addition via the Ryan Dempster deal with Texas. He’s considered to have very natural actions at third base, along with a strong arm and good hands. On the offensive side, he has plus bat speed and good pop, though he’s still refining his approach. Considering that third base is wide-open at the major league level, Villanueva could be one to watch.
Both Baez and Villanueva will be getting extra at-bats this fall—Baez in the Arizona Fall League and Villanueva in the Mexican Winter League (for Obregon). And both have considerable upside in how high they can climb.
First Half / 30-38, fifth place, 12.5 GB
Second Half / 29-36, sixth place, 7.5 GB
Storylines: Hope you had your stopwatches ready—new Manager Mark Johnson loved to send his runners around the bases. The Cubs’ 201 steals was 34 better than the No. 2 team in the league. Daytona also led the league in triples. Outfielder John Andreoli stole 55 bases in 75 tries to pace the team. Outfielder and top prospect Matt Szczur, promoted to Tennessee in July, had 38 steals in 50 attempts, while shortstop Arismendy Alcantara was 25-for-29. (more…)
Today we continue our tour around the Cubs farm system, taking a level-by-level look at performances the organization hopes to build on in 2013. The low Class-A Peoria Chiefs take the spotlight.
There weren’t many constants on the Chiefs roster this year, but the Cubs hope several players featured there will develop into cornerstones in Chicago.
Many locals got a sneak peek at the future when Peoria visited Kane County in Geneva, Ill., during the last weekend of the minor league season. Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler hit the longest home run of the season at that ballpark, a monstrous shot over the trees in left field. MLBlogger Born On Third Cubs caught the bomb on video (skip to 1:40 for the last swing):
That’s the sort of middle-of-the-order power potential that earned Soler a nine-year contract from the Cubs in June. Just 20 years old, Soler hit for a .338/.398/.513 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) with three home runs and five doubles in 20 games after his mid-August promotion from Short-Season Boise. He’ll now continue his season in the fall instructional league at the organization’s complex in Mesa, Ariz. That will allow him to get controlled instruction—as well as cultural immersion—under the watchful eyes of Cubs coaches.
He was replacing, in effect, Javier Baez, who showed he was worthy of the ninth-overall pick in the loaded 2011 draft class. He started the year in extended Spring Training before being assigned to Peoria when the weather warmed up around Memorial Day. From that point to his Aug. 4 promotion to high Class-A Daytona, Baez had a .333/.383/.596 slash line with 10 doubles, five triples and 12 home runs in 235 plate appearances. The shortstop also added 20 steals in 23 tries while establishing himself as arguably the organization’s top prospect.
Beyond that, the Peoria roster was a bit of a carousel due to injuries and promotions. The Chiefs featured 53 players this season.
First Half / 35-34, third place, 9.0 GB
Second Half / 28-41, seventh place, 19.5 GB
Storylines: The 2012 season marks the Chiefs’ last as a Cubs affiliate, as the organization announced a new player development contract with the Kane County Cougars this month. That will bring the Cubs within 50 miles of their low Class-A team or “right in our backyard,” as Jason McLeod put it. (more…)
The squads for the Arizona Fall Leagues were announced Wednesday afternoon, and seven Cubs farmhands will be a part of the the Mesa Solar Sox—the Cubs’ affiliate—when October rolls around.
Shortstop Javier Baez and outfielder Matt Szczur headline the group, as they were the No. 2 and 3 organizational prospects, respectively, according to Baseball America prior to the season. Baez, the club’s 2011 first-round pick, spent the majority of the year with Single-A Peoria, where he hit .333/.383/.596 with 12 homers in 57 games before an early August call-up to High-A Daytona. Szczur, a rangy outfielder with good speed, hit .268/.362/.396 with 58 walks and 42 stolen bases in 108 games between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.
Versatile outfielder Rubi Silva—.299/.316/.410 with 68 RBI in 126 games at Daytona and Tennessee—rounds out the positional players headed for Arizona this fall.
The Cubs will also send four pitchers to the hitter-friendly league. Right-handers Dae-Eun Rhee and Tony Zych are two of the stronger young arms in the system. Rhee, the Cubs’ third-best arm according to Baseball America, finished 9-8 with a 4.95 ERA for Double-A Tennessee, while Zych was a combined 5-4 with a 3.43 ERA in relief for Daytona and Tennessee.
Right-hander Kevin Rhoderick posted a 2-7 record with a 4.87 ERA in relief for Tennessee, and lefty Zach Rosscup had a 2-1 record with a 3.26 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 30.1 innings at three different levels.
The Fall League starts Oct. 9 and runs through Nov. 15. The Solar Sox’s home games will be played at HoHoKam Stadium, the Cubs’ Spring Training home.
Whether Javier Baez sticks at shortstop or moves to third base, he possesses one of the best hit tools in the 2011 draft class. (Photo courtesy of Aflac All-American)
After this season’s First-Year Player Draft, the future of the Cubs is the most promising it’s been in years.
The Cubs agreed to terms with 34 of their 50 selections by the Aug. 15 deadline, including each of their first seven picks: IF Javier Baez, IF Daniel Vogelbach, OF Zeke DeVoss, RHP Tony Zych, RHP Tayler Scott, C Neftali Rosario and IF Trevor Gretzky.
“This is one of the most talented draft classes I’ve ever seen signed by an organization,” said Tim Wilken, Cubs scouting director.
This investment marks a franchise-record for the Cubs, with their financial commitments totaling more this season than the past two years combined.
“This commitment to the draft is significant in a couple of ways, both in terms of financial investment, which was substantial, and the quality of players that are joining our organization,” said Wilken.
The official press release had more to say about some of the new Cubs: (more…)
Now a special assistant with the Giants, Shawon Dunston Sr. fondly remembered his Cubs days with Vine Line last September. (Photo by Stephen Green)
With the 339th overall pick (11th round) of the 2011 MLB player draft, the Cubs selected Shawon Dunston Jr., an outfielder out of Valley Christian High School in California. Many Cubs fans will instantly recognize the name: He’s the son of the Cubs’ 1982 first-overall pick and one of the organization’s most memorable players of a couple decades ago.
Describing himself as a proud father who broke down after his son’s selection, Dunston told Comcast SportsNet’s Dave Kaplan about his son’s strengths.
“He’s a left-handed hitter, he can run, he knows the strike zone, and I preach patience—which I tried to do for myself but couldn’t,” said Dunston Sr., who made two All-Star appearances in 12 seasons with the Cubs.
“We’re both very good,” he added. “I maybe had a little more talent, but my son is more educated than I am. He just goes out there and plays, and knows what I want is effort.” (more…)
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. (more…)