9/20 Minor matters: Baez & more

Javier Baez may not be playing in the Arizona Fall League but he will make at least two trips to Mesa, Ariz., to work with Cubs hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce and others. Baez, the top prospect on MLB.com’s list of Cubs’ 20 prospects, also will play some second and some third base, but do so “at the right time,” Theo Epstein said Friday.

Baez, who be honored on Saturday as the Minor League Player of the Year, was on the Mesa Solar Sox roster for the AFL but the Cubs decided the shortstop needed a break from a long season at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. He hit 37 home runs and totaled 111 RBIs in 130 games combined.

“What I really like about him is his insincts of the game,” Epstein said. “[It’s impressive] for a high school kid to show up in pro ball … to show a feel for the game, a feel to be a winning player. On defense, he’s got a great internal clock, and he knows how fast the runner is at first, he knows what he needs to do, how quick his release has to be on his throw. He was born with it. He showed that in high school and has carried that over into pro ball.”

Jason McLeod, director of scouting and player development, said if Baez did have to move from shortstop, that he felt second would be an easier transition.

“I don’t think any of us envisioned he’d hit 37 home runs,” McLeod said of Baez. “There are very few 20 year olds who did what he did.”

Kyle Hendricks will be honored as the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year on Saturday as well in pre-game ceremonies. McLeod said the right-hander showed a strong ability to “dissect the plate” with his pitches. McLeod also was excited to see how C.J. Edwards, Corey Black and Pierce Johnson developed after strong seasons in the Minors.

As for third base, Kris Bryant, the team’s No. 1 pick in the June First-Year Player Draft, will play in the AFL. He will open next year in either Daytona or Tennessee. The Cubs have two other talented third baseman in Christian Villanueva and Jeimer Candelario. McLeod said Villanueva may be the best defensive third baseman in the organization. The Cubs also are eager to see what Mike Olt can do. He was acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, and will spend some time working out in Mesa.

– Carrie Muskat

12 Comments

No mention of Vitters in a talented third base discussion….is he on the way out???

He’s being converted to left field.

You must have missed news on Tuesday that Vitters is being converted to LF

Lol.

Oh….thank you both!! Makes sense with the gluttony at 3B. Boy, the times….they are a changin’…..

Yes, joey, I agree with yourself. Is almost impossible to keep track of all our hot corner prospects. Is a plethora of those candidates. We are drowning in the possibilities. I see Bryant as an outfielder, don`t you? If Villanueva is the best defensively, he has an edge. But if he can`t provide offense, that won`t work. Looks as if we are looking at deals in our future with some of these third base prospects bringing us help in other areas.

Right jhosk, having all these legit prospects is a refreshing change of pace for this organization and is testament to the good job Hoystein has done to augment the minor leagues (“anti-Hendry”). I think Bryant is THE keeper whether at 3B or LF, Villanueva and Olt may battle it out for third if indeed Bryant moves to left leaving all other comers as trade bait. I’m afraid Vitters did not seize his opportunity to claim 3B and is now going to fall to the wayside and wind up as a throw in for a package trade for another team to try to revive his 3B career. No way the Cubs actually want Vitters in the OF with all the better outfielders up and coming.

Vitters may never make it as a impact major Leaguer, but he is still to young to give up on, in my opinion. Lets say ( pretend ) that you have an OF of Almora, Bryant & Soler in a couple years. I say PRETEND because, they may not all make it. You still need guys on the bench, if Vitters can play the OF, theres a chance he is a back up, 3B, OF and possibly 1B and RH PH off the bench.
If the above 3 do make it and someone like Szczer is ready, there is a back up OF, Pinch runner, and LH PH of the bench.
Of course as I said, they wont all make it. As far as Baez at 2B, I like the idea, but its not set in stone. Castro has improved his fielding since the All Star Game, but lets not forget that Lake could be moved to 2nd, Baez stay at SS.
Lets also not forget that 3rd baseman can easily convert to 1st base. So you can put a Bryant, Villanueva, Olt or Candelario there.
What I just stated was options. I also stated that with quality talent coming up, no position is secure, even if your name is Castro or Rizzo. Next AUG and SEP, this is going to be a very good problem for the Manager to have. Placing the guys that are ready now, some of the names above or some thats not even been mentioned.

OK, what it boils down to is not giving up too soon on Vitters or any player that at one time showed promise, they are not, just trying to make Vitters another OPTION for the outfield and that is good. I agree with you Jasper. However moving Vitters to the OF is not a good sign for him being a regular every day player….WITH THE CUBS. If it allows him to be a valuable bench/backup player so be it but those positions are not as hard to fill as are the coveted every day players that make it almost impossible (Sveum would find a way….) for a manager to go the lefty/righty platoon as was the relentless case this year for Sveum. But your point is well stated and taken.

Vitters in my opinion will not be a regular at 3rd base, he will be a bench player, possibly a very good one? Who knows? The more positions he can play, the more valuable he will be as a team player.

Vitters is being converted to LF. As for 3B options in the Cubs system, there’s Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva (best defensive player of the group), Jeimer Candelario and Kris Bryant. As for who is starting there in 2014, I couldn’t tell you yet

Carrie with the way the Minors have been stocked since NOV of 2011 and all the talent coming up, there is no way you could actually know who is going to be where next year.
Some of these guys may be ready next spring, some will need another year or two. Some will not even make it.
The exciting part is, with that much talent coming up, they are starting to push each other. The competition among them, with the promotions will start pushing those on the current club to be better.
Building from the bottom up was exactly what this Organization needed. I give alot of credit to, Theo, Jed, Wilkins and the whole staff.
Has anyone looked at the STATS of Maholm, Dempster, Feldman, Garza since being traded? These were all excellent trades. Rizzo for Cashner, that looks pretty even at this point. Marshall for Wood,Torreyes & Sappelt was a great trade.
Campana for two 16, 17 or 18 Y/O Pitchers, great gamble and they are both doing well.
Soriano for Cory Black, good trade for a very good prospect. Also gave Soriano a chance to shine else where. Cub fans no longer appreciated what he accomplished.
Extremely pleased and excited where the whole Organization is headed.

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