In what has been a long-awaited move, the Chicago Cubs have finally promoted highly regarded prospect Javier Baez to the major leagues, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. Baez will join the club in time for Tuesday's game against the Rockies in Colorado.
Baez is considered by many to be one of the best prospects in the game, possessing elite upside rivaled by few. He has consistently been ranked as a top-10 prospect over the past couple years, and has only recently been surpassed among Chicago prospects by Kris Bryant, which speaks to the Cubs' embarrassment of riches more than any perceived lack of talent from Baez. In their most recent rankings, Baseball Prospects ranked Baez has the fifth best prospect in baseball, while Baseball America slotted him in at seventh overall.
The ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft out of a Florida high school, Baez has excelled at every level of the minors, hitting .278/.336/.545 in 319 minor league games. After slugging 37 home runs last season, Baez has seen his production dip a bit this season, though he has still been fantastic. In 434 plate appearances at Triple-A this year, he has hit .260/.323/.510 with 23 home runs and 16 stolen bases, bursting out in July for a .999 OPS.
Baez is known for his possibly 80-grade (on the 20-80 scale) power, which could enable him to hit 35+ home runs per season down the road. He also carries above-average speed and hit tools, though the latter is probably the 21-year-old's biggest question mark at the moment. Add in a strong arm and decent range, and Baez could profile as a perennial MVP candidate from the middle of the diamond.
Baez was recently shifted over to second base from shortstop due to Starlin Castro's presence at the major league level. With the Cubs, he should see a majority of his playing time come at the keystone, moving current Cubs second baseman and fellow top prospect Arismendy Alcantara to center field. Long-term, it appears that second base will be Baez's home, as, despite his ability to play a quality shortstop, the Cubs are loaded with young infield talent. Over the next couple years, it will be interesting to watch how Chicago sorts out their cluster of infielders that includes names such as Baez, Castro, Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and the recently acquired Addison Russell among others.