Javier Baez is rated as the Chicago Cubs #1 prospect regardless of which publication or website you check. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline have Baez rated as their #16 overall prospect. Baseball Prospectus has him at #4.
After a season where Baez posted a triple slash of .282/.341/.578 with 37 HR between High-A and Double-A, a team that has struggled to score runs might feel pressed to get his bat to the big league level. Last season only the Miami Marlins scored fewer runs than the Cubs. In 2012, when there were 16 teams in the NL, only two teams crossed the plate less than the Cubbies: Miami and Houston.
Perhaps this might help…
The #Cubs plan to often play prized SS prospect Javier Baez at second base at Triple-A Iowa, with hopes of reaching big leagues quicker.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 18, 2014
Now, in looking at Nightengale’s tweet, we have to attempt to define “often”. Who honestly knows.
Moving Baez to second would mean that Starlin Castro, at least for now, is the shortstop. At one time, I had read on a few sites that the Cubs could move Castro to third base and keep Baez at short. With the trade for Mike Olt coupled with drafting Kris Bryant, it’s hard to figure Castro would make that positional switch.
It now begs to ask: What about Darwin Barney‘s status?
I would think that would not be a real issue until around mid-season at the earliest. Most of that would have to center around the development of Baez, but it’s honestly a good problem.
Barney does own a Gold Glove (some would argue he should have two), but his bat has fallen off since his rookie season. In 2011, Barney finished seventh in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, producing a triple slash of .276/.313/.353. His OPS+ was only 83. Last season: .208/.266/.303 with a OPS+ of 56. In fact, over the past two seasons, Barney’s OPS has been below .300. He’s made over 1,100 plate appearances over those two years.
Or maybe: Where would Arismendy Alcantara play once he’s ready?
That future infield sure looks full, doesn’t it? Could be that one is moved off the infield and placed in the outfield provided the organization wants to keep all from this stable of hopeful future stars. If you do move one to the outfield, it would most likely have to be a corner position. The club has Albert Almora in the wings. He’s at least year or two from seeing the Friendly Confines (ETA 2016).
The other option: a trade. I’ll state that this might not be a popular decision if one of the prospects is involved. We’ve been hearing that the Cubs are banking on these guys to bring winning baseball back to the team and Cubs faithful. I think you can figure who could be the odd man out if all of this were to develop.