Javier Baez's stunning 2013 season has Cubs fans excited that he might be the first of the "waves and waves" of minor league talent to reach the big leagues.
But Cal Ripken Jr. is pumping the brakes.
The Hall of Famer was on the David Kaplan Show on Wednesday night and when asked about the Cubs' top prospect, cautioned the 20-year-old shortstop might not be ready just yet, despite a 37-homer, 111-RBI season that included a .983 OPS in 54 games with Double-A Tennessee. But Baez also committed 44 errors and sported a .932 fielding percentage, numbers that caught Ripken's eye.
"I would argue he's not (close to being ready)," Ripken said. "If he's making (44) errors, then he needs some development. We all go through learning ourselves. I made 30-something errors in rookie ball through my first 60 games. It's like you're making an error every game.
"You start to learn about the game speed, about yourself and how much time you really have with fast or slow runners. You start to make plays more consistently."
Ripken played 443 minor league games before making his MLB debut in 1981. Baez only has 215 games under his belt through three minor league seasons.
"You do have to work at it, and you do have to have that game experience," Ripken said. "So maybe he's a little bit more advanced with the bat right now, and that makes you want to feel like you want to rush him there.
"But making that many errors in the big leagues is not healthy for the player or for the team. I would tend to make some improvements in the defense and cut down on those errors. It's the total package you want to bring to the big leagues."