MILWAUKEE – Javier Baez will skip the Arizona Fall League after a breakthrough season that cemented his status as one of the game’s top prospects.
The Cubs watched Baez generate 37 homers and 111 RBI in 130 games split between advanced Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee before a Southern League playoff run. The 20-year-old shortstop will recharge, work out in Arizona and prepare for a spring training where he will be one of the major storylines.
“He’s kind of emotionally and physically drained,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday at Miller Park. “We have no problem with (him missing the AFL). The last thing we want him to do is go there and risk injury or not feel like he can give his all.
“He just felt like he was tired. It was a long season for him.”
The Cubs are looking at their options to replace Baez on the Mesa Solar Sox roster, which may include moving 2012 first-round pick Albert Almora off the taxi squad. A team official also said the Cubs will have Arodys Vizcaino pitch in instructional league instead of the AFL, so they can better manage his rehab schedule during his long road back from Tommy John surgery in March 2012.
A series of injuries forced Almora and $30 million Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler to miss huge chunks of development time this season. They will play for the Solar Sox along with No. 2 overall pick Kris Bryant, in what Cubs officials hope will be a preview of seasons to come at Wrigley Field.
The front office had also hoped to see Baez play multiple positions in the AFL, potentially preparing for the day he’s the second baseman or third baseman next to Starlin Castro. If Baez crushes Triple-A pitching in the Pacific Coast League, that might come as soon as summer 2014.
“There’s time to do that,” Hoyer said. “He’ll be our shortstop in Iowa to start next year, but we’ll move him around and get him exposure elsewhere.”
Baez and Kyle Hendricks will be honored as the organization’s minor-league player and pitcher of the year before Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field.