- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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The Chicago Cubs selected 18-year-old infielder Javier Baez out of Jacksonville, Fla. with the ninth pick in the amateur draft on Monday.
Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said Baez will provide a lot of versatility as a professional player.
“We think he’s one of the two best hitters in the draft this year,” Wilken said.
While scouting Baez, the Cubs liked the young player’s overall ability and believe that he’ll hit for average and for power as he advances through the minor leagues.
At this point, they’re not sure what position he’ll be playing.
“He projects to play wherever his bat takes him,” Wilken said. “He can play shortstop. I’ve seen him play at third. Our scouts have seen him at third, and we’ve even seen him catch. I wouldn’t even doubt that he could play second. He’s a baseball player.”
Baseball America had Baez ranked as the seventh best overall position player and the fifth best high school player in the draft. The only question mark the paper talked about was his emotional makeup. However, a Cubs source said that Baez’s fiery nature on the field was more a plus to them than anything else.
Baez, a 6-1, 205-pounder, batted .771 (64-for-83) with 20 doubles, six triples, 22 homers and 52 RBIs in 115 plate appearances in leading Arlington Country Day School to the National Association of Christian Athletics championship this past season. He also scored 46 runs, stole 28 bases and drew 32 walks compared to just three strikeouts.
The Cubs’ next pick comes up in the second round on Tuesday at No. 68 overall.