- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer says top prospect Javier Baez needs to "figure his way out" of a season-long funk that has him hitting only .147 after 27 games and 114 plate appearances at Triple-A Iowa before Wednesday night.
"He's in a big slump," Hoyer said. "He'll have to figure his way out of it. He'll be stronger for having gone through this."
Baez has three home runs and 11 RBIs in 102 at-bats to go along with 43 strikeouts and only 10 walks. He hit five home runs in 53 at-bats during spring training while opening eyes around the league with some prodigious shots during Cactus League play. It has been slow going for him since going back down to the minors where he hit 37 home runs last season between Single-A and Double-A.
"Whenever that [getting cut] happens, the team almost expects a little bit of a lag at the end of spring training and then early in the year," Hoyer said. "It probably is, emotionally, a little bit of a letdown after you sort of audition in spring training with the adrenaline then you go down, but I think we're past that point."
In other words, it's time for Baez to come out of it and show why he's the Cubs' No. 1-ranked prospect after being drafted in the first round in 2011. It's still too early to label this year as anything but a rough start, but it has subsided the talk of Baez making his major-league debut any time soon.
"He has to grow some patience," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said recently. "Those are positive things for us. Patience is going to be something he has to have. Once people see him put the barrel on the ball, they're more likely not to want to give him anything to hit."
The Cubs were bound to have one of their top prospects slow down in their progression after a very good 2013, but it's time for Baez to get it going. The Cubs' rebuilding project depends on the best prospects becoming some of their best players.