Living in Palm Coast Florida, I'm really not located near any MLB teams. The closest team to me is the Tampa Bay Rays who are a good 4 hour drive away. However, I am lucky enough to live near a few minor league affiliates of some Major League teams. On those teams are the Major League stars of tomorow. Some of the games top prospects, preparing themselves and improving their skills in the hopes of one day getting called to the big leagues.
The closest team near me is the Daytona Cubs. A team that's seen the likes of Starlin Castro, Kerry Wood, Kyle Lohse, and Jeff Samardzija graze it's field over the recent years.
So last Sunday, I decide to take the trip down to see the Daytona Cubs as they played host to the Palm Beach Cardinals in a Florida State League matchup on a beautiful night at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. But of course I was mostly in attendance in hopes to catch a glimps at a couple of the Chicago Cubs top prospects in Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.
Unforunately for me Soler, who is the Cubs 5th ranked prospect, was not in the lineup on Sunday for what many assumed to be just an average off day. I recently learned that Soler was benched by the Daytona manager due to his lack of hustle in the game he had played the previous day.
But trust me, I can assure that Soler is a talented outfielder with a power bat that the Cubs are lucky to have singned and I do believe that Soler will one day be a force to be reckond with in the Cubs lineup in the coming years.
That left me with Javier Baez. The 9th overll pick in the 2011 draft is the number 1 ranked player in the Chicago Cubs oranization. Baez is a 6' 0", 195lb shortstop with a predicted Major League readiness of 2014. The 20-year old Baez is a player known more for bis bat than his glove.
As more of an average and power hitter than a solid defender, many suggest that Baez will be moved to 3rd base some time soon. Which with Starlin Castro as the Cubs current shortstop, that move doesn't sound bad if Baez wants to play in the Majors anytime soon.
Sunday night in Daytona, he led me to believe everything that I've heard about him. First, the offense. Keep in mind that I don't really have a scouts eye.
Baez flew out to center field in his 1st at-bat, then followed up in the 3rd inning with a 2-run homerun. A blast over the batting cages in left field of Jackie Robinson Ballpark. A ball that I was lucky enough to find sitting near the sidewalk, untouched, and unseen by anyone before me. The homeun was Baez's 5th of the season to go along with RBI's numbers 14 and 15.
In his 3rd at-bat, Baez was able to work the count before he struck out looking. In his 4th and final plate apperance of the game, Baez lined a single back up the middle for his 2nd hit of the game. He finished the game 2-for-4 and should I say that both hits were nothing cheap. Both were solid contact, hard hit balls.
The other piece of his game is something that again looked very relative to watch the scouting reports said. As I mentioned, Baez isn't exactly a player known for great defense and it showed on Sunday.
His 1st error of the game came in the 2nd. Baez retreated into deep into the hole at short, backhanded the ball, then fired across the diamond. The runner may have been out should the thrown have been on a line to 1st base.
Error number 2 was commited in the 7th inning when Baez charged for towards a groundball that slipped right under his glove and rolled into center field. It was a ball that any average shortstop could have handled an made the out with ease.
I can't say that I've seen enough of Javier Baez to say that his game was good or bad. But I can say that if you take away his 3rd inning blast and mention the fact that he was tagged out while caught in a rundown, then you might say that his game wasn't all that great.
Again, I need to watch him more. I was only there to report what I saw in that one particular game. And what I saw was that he does infact have a bat to talk about and a glove that still needs some work if he wants to one day be a star on what I've predicted to be a future winning Cubs lineup.
Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.