Prospect rankings primer
Last year's Cubs list
The Top Ten
1. Javier Baez
Height/Weight: 6’0” 195 lbs
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2011 draft, Arlington Country Day School (Jacksonville FL)
Previous Ranking: #2 (Org), #20 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: .294/.346/.638 at Double-A Tennessee (54 games), .274/.338/.535 at High-A Daytona (76 games)
The Tools: 8 power potential; 6+ potential hit; 7 arm; 6 potential glove
What Happened in 2013: You can’t ask for more from a prospect than Baez offered at the plate in 2013, launching 75 extra-base hits in 130 games across two levels and pushing himself into the top tier of all prospects in baseball.
Strengths: Elite bat speed; elite hands; plus hand-eye coordination; can make hard contact to all fields; natural ability to barrel the ball; raw power is elite; game power could play to elite; arm is plus-plus; actions are easy plus in the field; baseball instincts; superstar profile.
Weaknesses: Can get impatient at the plate and attempt to hit bad balls out of the park; can get tied up by off-speed offerings; early weight shift/fastball cheat; will expand and chase; struggles against quality arm-side stuff; big swing-and-miss; loves to swing it; slick actions in the field but can get overly passive and let the ball play him; can make ill-advised throws; needs to learn when to eat it.
Overall Future Potential: High 7; perennial all-star player
Realistic Role: High 6; first-division/all-star
Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate risk; Double-A experience; sizeable gap between present/future.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The upside that Baez holds from a fantasy perspective is likely second to only Byron Buxton—and the likely gets added in there because Baez may actually have more, given his potential eligibility. The tools are crazy and even though he doesn’t have the strongest run tool, he’s still 46-for-55 in stolen bases during his 215 minor-league games. Even if you can’t put him at shortstop (which is far from a definitive outcome), you’d take 30 homers, 15-plus steals and a .280 average from just about anywhere on the diamond. He’s a no-doubt top-five fantasy prospect in baseball.
The Year Ahead: Baez might lack Buxton’s overall athleticism or Bogaerts’ polish, but the 21-year-old Puerto Rican might have the highest offensive ceiling of any player in the minors, a potential middle-of-the-order force capable of hitting for average and obnoxious game power. While he’s no longer a true boom-or-bust prospect, Baez carries more risk than the average high-end prospect with Double-A experience because of the extreme projections on his tools and the balls-to-the-wall approach he often brings to all sides of the game. As Baez matures and adds more patience at the plate and more confidence in the field, he should develop into one of the game’s elite players, a left-side infielder (short or third) with an offensive attack that some scouts project to achieve Miguel Cabrera-level heights, an extreme comparison but one that his elite bat speed and power potential could make a reality if everything clicks. He needs to shorten up against arm-side pitching and stay in his approach, and he needs to slow the game down in the field and let his hands and arm help the cause rather than hurt it, but he should continue to crush in the upper minors and force a major-league decision at some point in 2014. The Cubs could have a generational talent in Baez.
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