<
>

Javier Baez arrives quietly at camp

2/17/2014
Javier Baez will start the season at Triple-A Iowa and could get a call-up this season. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Ariz. -- He’s soft-spoken, but carries a big stick.

The Chicago Cubs' next great hope, 2011 first-round pick Blake Parker said. “The anticipation is building to see what [he] can do.”

But Baez won’t get that chance in the big leagues until his defense improves, as well as his plate discipline. At the beginning of last year, the Cubs wanted him to walk about once every 10-11 plate appearances. He got better as the season went along, finishing with a free pass every 14 times at the plate. But his 44 errors at shortstop stand out. He’s committed to cutting down on that number.

“A lot of my errors are I get a ground ball and I look at the runner and I lose where I’m going to throw the ball,” he said.

He’ll continue at shortstop when he gets to Iowa, but in camp he’ll move around the diamond, mostly at second and third base.

“I’m going to try and play either one and do my best,” Baez said.

With Starlin Castro the incumbent at shortstop, where Baez plays when he gets to Wrigley Field is still up in the air. But his defense isn’t going to be what people talk about when he gets there. It’s his vicious bat speed that will impress them the most as he becomes the new hope for the Cubs.