MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein said top prospect Javier Baez will more than likely start 2014 at Triple-A Iowa playing shortstop. There's also a good chance that Baez will get some time at other positions, Epstein said, reiterating previous front-office statements.
"We have a shortstop now, so if we're fortunate to get to the point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and [Starlin] Castro is healthy, then we'll look to move Baez around," Epstein said Tuesday.
Baez is coming off a huge minor league season in which he hit a combined 37 home runs and drove in 111 runs in Single-A and Double-A. Since he was drafted in the first round in 2011, there has been much debate about what position he'll play in the major leagues, considering Castro is a two-time All-Star at shortstop. Outside observers have also talked about Castro changing positions, but the Cubs have never entertained that idea publicly.
Epstein raved about Baez's baseball IQ.
"I think he has a lot going forward for him ... because for a young kid he has tremendous baseball instincts," Epstein said. "Not just shortstop instincts. Not that we would ever do this, but I don't doubt he could go out and play well in the outfield. I think he could catch. I think second and third base will be positions that he can handle if and when the time is right to do that. There is a chance we experiment with that this winter in some form or another. There is a chance in spring training we look at that."
Baez is slated to play in the Arizona Fall League, so he could play somewhere other than shortstop as soon as next month.
"He's most likely to break, next year, as our Triple-A shortstop," Epstein said. "If we start hearing the pounding on the door, we can get him more exposure to other positions."