On a night when the starting shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, Starlin Castro, finally broke an 0-for-13 skid, but remained in a 4-for-42 streak, the organization’s hot shot prospect at that position hit four home runs for Class-A Daytona.
Javier Baez went 4-for-4 with seven RBIs in a 9-6 win over Fort Myers. Though the Cubs lost their game to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, Baez’ night didn’t escape manager Dale Sveum.
“I heard about it,” Sveum said moments after his team lost 6-2. “Obviously it’s a pretty special night at any level for someone to hit four home runs. That’s what we’re hoping for when it all gets developed and ready to go here.”
Having said that, Sveum isn’t ready to declare Baez -- or any other prospect in the organization -- ready for the big leagues.
“I don’t see any of them (here soon),” Sveum said before Monday’s game. “That’s not what we’re trying to do. They’re here to develop and produce. We’re still not getting the huge production at the level. We don’t just call people up because they’re supposed to be prospects.”
Sveum didn’t amend those remarks after hearing about Baez, who raised his average to .291 and his on-base percentage to .339 while going from nine to 13 home runs on Monday. He’s also driven in 44 but he’s not likely to get a promotion until he shows more discipline at the plate. He has just 11 walks on the season to go along with 60 strikeouts.
The Cubs, like every team, are looking for their Yasiel Puig. The Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder has taken the league by storm, starting his career 15-for-30 after going 2-for-2 in his first two at-bats on Monday, while hitting four home runs in his first five games. He’s energized a Dodgers team that had been struggling since the beginning of the season. The Cubs could use the same lift; can Baez or another top prospect do that for them?
“You hope so,” Sveum said. “But it doesn’t happen very often.”
Jorge Soler is another Class A player getting a lot of hype. He signed a nine-year, $30 million contract last year and has eight home runs and 34 RBIs while hitting .278. Albert Almora was a first-round pick in 2012 and he’s off to a torrid start at Class-A Kane County after dealing with injuries in the spring. He’s hitting .423 with an on-base percentage of .455. Meanwhile the Cubs just drafted slugger Kris Bryant with the No.2 overall pick in the Rule 4 draft last Thursday.
Any and all could be the next big thing in Chicago and Baez isn’t dissuading anyone after his big night.
“Those are our best prospects,” Sveum said. “Whether it’s Baez or Soler, the Almoras, whenever they’re ready to get here. We’re still talking about a couple years away. We’re not talking about next year or anytime this year. Those are the guys that you have to have hit otherwise you’re back to the drawing board.”