SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — As part of a championship team in 2016, the Cubs’ Baez stole quite a number of bases and took steps forward from previous seasons.
Will he be able to take further steps forward in 2017? I asked John Arguello of Cubs Den for his thoughts about Baez. Here’s what he told me:
He does have quick hands and some strength and athleticism. The ability is there. His approach needs work but I think he took some steps forward from a maturity standpoint last year. He looks to be in better physical shape as well. Maybe the best I've seen him.
This is all positive and Baez could be on the cusp of a really good big-league career. But first he needs more seasoning, so he’s most likely going to start 2017 in Double-A.
By this time I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why would Javier Baez, with the great defense and baserunning ability he showed in the World Series and the World Baseball Classic, have to go back to Double-A?”
Before you ask that question, you might want to check the calendar and remind yourself what today is.
After you’ve done that, double-check the photo above, which is of Cubs prospect Jeffrey Baez. Jeffrey Baez played in 2016 with the Carolina League champion Myrtle Beach Pelicans, leading the club in stolen bases with 38. That total was also third in the league. He will most probably open this season at Double-A Tennessee.
I’ve seen Jeffrey Baez play a number of times, both in 2015 for the South Bend Cubs and in spring-training games for the big-league squad this year, for which he went 4-for-7 with three doubles. He does have some pop in his bat, but will need to develop that more to have any chance at a big-league career. He turned 23 last October, so there’s still time.
Here are a couple more photos of Jeffrey Baez, courtesy John Arguello of Cubs Den.