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Javier Baez

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Ednel Javier Báez (born December 1, 1992) is a Puerto Rican professional baseball second baseman for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). Born in Puerto Rico, Báez attended high school in Jacksonville, Florida, and starred for his school's baseball team. The Cubs selected Báez with the ninth overall selection of the 2011 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut on August 5, 2014.

Early life and introduction to baseballEdit

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Báez moved to Florida in 2005 along with his mother and siblings, three brothers and a sister.[1] The move was so that his sister, Noely, could get medical treatment for her spina bifida condition.[2] In Puerto Rico he and his two brothers, Gadiel and Rolando, became familiar with the sport through their father, Ángel Luis Baez who, before his death when Javier was ten, heavily influenced their life and was responsible for their interest in baseball.[2] The brothers would later immortalize this interest by getting tattoos of Major League Baseball's logo, which symbolized that "baseball has been in [their] lives forever."[2] Rolando was the first to become a professional baseball player, being drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2002.[3] As middle school student, it took time for Javier to adapt since he was unable to fluently speak or understand English.[1] Báez eventually learned the language through trial and error in a process that lasted for three years, memorizing words before knowing their actual meaning.[1]

Báez played the last two years of his secondary education for Arlington Country Day School (ACD) in Jacksonville, Florida. His coach at ACD, Ron Dickerson, noted that initially scouts were not impressed by him, noting his talent, but not believing he could become star.[1] Dickerson emphasized that Báez's work ethic was responsible for positioning him as a real prospect.[1] As a sophomore he had a .463 batting average with 38 hits, of which nine were doubles and 13 were home runs.[4] Making 82 plate appearances in 25 games, he also gathered 60 runs batted in (RBIs). By the time that his junior season was over, Báez was a highly rated Aflac All-American.[1] In his senior season, he recorded 64 hits in 83 at-bats to gather an average of .771, which included 20 doubles and 22 home runs. In total, Báez recorded 52 RBIs in 30 games.[4] During his time at ACD, he never played a position steadily. After working at second base, Báez was moved to shortstop once the team lost a player.[5] Besides these positions, he also played as a center fielder and as catcher.[6]

Professional careerEdit

Minor LeaguesEdit

The Chicago Cubs selected Báez in the first round, with the ninth overall selection, of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft.[3][7] He began his professional career by playing shortstop for the Arizona Cubs of the Rookie-level Arizona League, where he only played in three games, recording three hits, including two doubles, in 12 at-bats and two stolen bases.[8] Promoted to the Boise Hawks of the Class A-Short Season Northwest League, Báez recorded one single in six at bats across two games.[9] On September 29, 2011, he was selected third overall by the Leones de Ponce in the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente's (LBPRC) rookie draft, but has yet to play there due to the Cubs' limitations.[10]

Before the 2012 season, MLB.com rated Báez as the 62nd best prospect in baseball.[11] He remained with the Cubs in extended spring training with other prospects, participating in 26 games and hitting 6 doubles, 3 triples and 8 home runs, with 28 RBI, 11 stolen bases, and 23 strikeouts in 94 plate appearances.[12] He made his regular season debut with the Peoria Chiefs of the Class A Midwest League.[13] He was promoted to the Daytona Cubs of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League (FSL).[13] Baseball America included Báez in two of its "Best Tools" lists, naming him the "Most Exciting Player in the Midwest League" and the "Best Defensive Infielder" in the Chicago Cubs system.[14]

Before the 2013 season, MLB.com rated Báez as the 16th best prospect in baseball.[15] The Cubs invited him to join their major league team in spring training, competing in the Cactus League. Báez hit four home runs in five at-bats over the course of two games,[16] including in an unofficial exhibition game against the Japanese national baseball team that was preparing for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.[17][18] He concluded spring training with a .298 batting average and 10 RBIs.[19] Báez returned to the Daytona Cubs to open the 2013 season. On June 10, 2013, Báez hit four home runs in one game, becoming the second player to do so in the history of the FSL.[20] Báez was named one of the five finalists in the fan vote for the final spot on the World Team's roster for the 2013 All-Star Futures Game, but he finished second to Carlos Correa.[21]

On July 6, 2013, the Cubs promoted Báez to the Tennessee Smokies of the Class AA Southern League after displaying more plate discipline and walking more often during the previous month.[22] Báez was named to both the FSL and Southern League All-Star teams at the conclusion of the season.[23][24] The Cubs named him their Minor League Player of the Year, closing the season as the top-ranked prospect in the team's system and third overall in the Southern League.[25][26] On October 28, 2013, Báez won the MiLBY Award for Best Minor League Game of the Year, recognizing his four-home run game.[27]

The Cubs invited Báez to spring training in 2014. An injury suffered by Starlin Castro allowed him regular playing time. To increase his versatility, Báez began practicing at second base and third base.[28] He was reassigned to Minor League camp during the final week of spring training.[29] Bothered by a back injury, he opened his participation with the Iowa Cubs of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League (PCL) immersed in a slump, with his only hit in 20 at bats being the first home run of the season.[30][31] During the second week of the season, Báez had his first multi-hit game and hit a second home run before being placed on the seven day disabled list with an ankle sprain. Báez slumped following his return, and his batting average fell below .150 in May, while his strikeout-to-walk ratio worsened. With a more patient approach at the plate, Báez began a hitting streak on May 16, 2014. On May 26, 2014, Báez was named the PCL Player of the Week for the previous week.[32]

On May 22, 2014, the Cangrejeros de Santurce of the LBPRC signed Báez by exploiting a legal loop that allowed players to be considered free agents unless properly signed within three years of being drafted.[33] However, the Leones de Ponce quickly reclaimed his local player rights, claiming that they had approached him with the intent of formalizing a contract but that the "extreme fatigue" clause of the Winter League Agreement had interfered.[34]

Major League BaseballEdit

On August 5, the Cubs promoted Báez to the major leagues.[35] In his debut that day, he hit his first career home run; the game-winner in the 12th inning victory against the Colorado Rockies, becoming the first player since Miguel Cabrera in 2003 to hit an extra innings home run in their debut.[36] In his third game, Báez hit two home runs, becoming the first player since Joe Cunningham in 1954 to hit three home runs in his first three MLB games.[37] On August 18, 2014, Baez hit his fifth home run in 14 games, joining Jason Kipnis as the only other second baseman to do so in the last 100 years.[38]

On September 2, SS Starlin Castro injured himself in an awkward slide at home plate and did not return for the balance of the year.[39] Baez finished the season at shortstop.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 For former ACD slugger Javier Baez, Major League future is when, not if | members.jacksonville.com. M.jacksonville.com (June 22, 2013). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Every day with sister Noely is special for Chicago Cubs player Javier Baez | cubs.com: News. Chicago.cubs.mlb.com (December 23, 2013). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cubs tab high school shortstop Javier Baez with ninth pick | MLB.com: News. Mlb.mlb.com (May 24, 2013). Retrieved on August 19, 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Javier Baez's (Jacksonville, FL) High School Baseball Stats. Maxpreps.com. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  5. Carrie Muskat & AJ Cassavell (2014-03-16). Top prospect Baez getting work at second base. Major League Baseball. Retrieved on 2014-03-18.
  6. Patrick Mooney (2014-03-17). Cubs: Javier Baez ready for anything, getting closer to Wrigley. Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Retrieved on 2014-03-18.
  7. Power surge down on the farm by SS Javier Baez — Chicago Sun-Times. Suntimes.com. Retrieved on August 19, 2013.
  8. 2011 Arizona Cubs Statistics and Team Info. The Baseball Cube. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  9. 2011 Boise Hawks Statistics and Team Info. The Baseball Cube (January 9, 2011). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  10. Para imprimir (Spanish). Elnuevodia.com. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  11. 2012 Prospect Watch | MLB.com: News. Mlb.mlb.com (May 24, 2013). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
  12. 2012 Cubs Extended Spring Training — Final Stats | The Cub Reporter (TCR) | A Chicago Cubs Blog. The Cub Reporter (February 13, 2014). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Javier Baez at Minor League Central. Minorleaguecentral.com. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  14. Stats: Javier Baez (Spanish). Baseball America. Retrieved on March 12, 2014.
  15. 2013 Prospect Watch | cubs.com: News. Chicago.cubs.mlb.com (May 24, 2013). Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
  16. Chen gives up 4 homers in loss to Cubs — Yahoo Sports. Sports.yahoo.com (March 16, 2013). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  17. Cubs minor leaguer Javier Baez hits 2 HRs to help Cubs beat Japan 7–5. Fox News. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  18. Bruce Chen Finds Out Javier Baez Can Do Whatever He Wants | The Cub Reporter (TCR) | A Chicago Cubs Blog. The Cub Reporter. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  19. For former ACD slugger Javier Baez, Major League future is when, not if | members.jacksonville.com. Jacksonville.com (June 22, 2013). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  20. Corcoran, Cliff (June 11, 2013). Watch: Cubs prospect Javier Baez bashes four home runs in one game. Mlb.si.com. Retrieved on August 19, 2013.
  21. Wild, Danny (July 1, 2013). Correa, Nimmo voted to Futures Game: Mets' No. 4 prospect headed to Citi Field after online fan vote. MiLB.com. Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  22. Baez, Villanueva homer, but Smokies fall 8–2. Minor League Baseball (July 6, 2013). Retrieved on March 12, 2014.
  23. Dykstra, Sam (August 22, 2013). Nicolino, Lawley take top FSL honors | MiLB.com News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball. Milb.com. Retrieved on October 30, 2013.
  24. Dykstra, Sam (August 30, 2013). Baez, Smokies dominate SL All-Stars | MiLB.com News | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball. Milb.com. Retrieved on October 30, 2013.
  25. Mlb.mlb.com (September 13, 2013). Cubs Name Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year | cubs.com: News. Press release. Retrieved on October 30, 2013.
  26. Javier Baez Chicago Cubs top prospect — Chicago Tribune. Articles.chicagotribune.com (October 8, 2013). Retrieved on October 30, 2013.
  27. Javier Baez Takes Home a MiLBY for Best Minor League Game of the Year. Chicago Cubs Online. Retrieved on October 30, 2013.
  28. Javier Baez playing second base — Chicago Tribune. Articles.chicagotribune.com (March 6, 2014). Retrieved on March 7, 2014.
  29. Carrie Muskat (March 22, 2014). Baez lauded for progress, takes roster move in stride. Major League Baseball. Retrieved on March 23, 2014.
  30. Carrie Muskat (April 6, 2014). Baez homers for Triple-A Iowa to end slide. Major League Baseball. Retrieved on April 7, 2014.
  31. Tommy Birch (April 10, 2014). Prospects Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks shine in win. The Des Moines Register. Retrieved on April 10, 2014.
  32. "PCL honor to Baez", MILB.com, May 26, 2014. Retrieved on August 6, 2014.
  33. "Santurce anuncia firma de Lindor", Primera Hora, May 24, 2014. Retrieved on August 6, 2014. (in Spanish)
  34. "Ponce reclama a Javier Báez", El Nuevo Dia, May 23, 2014. Retrieved on August 6, 2014. (in Spanish)
  35. "Cubs call up top prospect Baez", MLB.com, August 5, 2014. Retrieved on August 6, 2014.
  36. "Relaxed Baez shines on Cubs' stage", Chicago Tribune, August 6, 2014. Retrieved on August 6, 2014.
  37. Muskat, Carrie (August 7, 2014). Baez buzz continues: Two HRs help down Rockies: Young standout 3-for-4 with four RBIs; Hendricks goes eight strong. MLB.com. Retrieved on August 8, 2014.
  38. Javier Baez, 2b, Chicago Cubs, MLB Baseball. CBS Sports. Retrieved on 19 August 2014.
  39. Player Updates. MLB.com. Retrieved on 27 September 2014.

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Preceded by:
Bryce Harper
Youngest Player in the National League
2014-present
Succeeded by:
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