Javier Baez impressing Cubs front office

Javier Baez impressing Cubs front office
August 24, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Tony Andracki

SAN DIEGO -- When Javier Baez was promoted to Double-A in early July, many assumed it would take a while for the 20-year-old slugger to adapt to the higher level.

After an early 2-for-23 slump, Baez has been on an absolute tear with the Tennessee Smokies, crushing 17 homers and driving in 44 runs in 45 games with a .310 average and 1.029 OPS.

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Baez, considered by some to be the Cubs' top prospect, has even wowed his own front office.

"To be candid — no [we didn't think he'd have this level of success this soon]," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "He had that early 2-for-23 first stretch and since then, he's been really unbelievable for us. Probably a little bit more success than we expected."

"He got over that initial Double-A hurdle pretty quickly and he's been on a real hot streak. Good for him. It's impressive that he's adjusted as quickly as he did."

After a hot start to the season last year in Low-A Peoria, Baez struggled in his first promotion to High-A Daytona, hitting just .188 with four homers in 23 games.

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He adjusted quickly and was back to his usual self with Daytona this season, boasting an .873 OPS, 17 homers and 19 doubles in 76 games.

But nobody expected him to post a slugging percentage nearly 130 points better (.663 to .535) in Double-A.

In his last 10 games alone, Baez has nine extra-base hits (including five homers) 10 RBIs and a whopping 1.371 OPS. Between both levels, he is hitting .288/.349/.584 in 121 games with 34 homers and 101 RBIs.

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"It feels like he's finishing the season on a really high note, which is great," Hoyer said. "Hopefully he'll carry that forward into next year, the confidence he has in Double-A.

"When we made that jump from High-A to Double-A, we felt like giving him the challenge was the right thing to do and he responded."

Despite his success, Cubs fans need to reel in their excitement. Baez won't be promoted to the big leagues anytime this year, even when the rosters expand to 40 in September.

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But there is a strong chance he could play among the game's elite prospects in the Arizona Fall League for the second straight year. His stint in the AFL last season was cut short due to a freak hand injury.

Outfielders Albert Almora and Jorge Soler, two of the other top prospects in the Cubs system, are also expected to partake in the AFL. Rosters will be announced next week.