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Sunday, July 7, 2013
Road still winding for Javier Baez

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- One day after Chicago Cubs top prospect Javier Baez hit a home run on his first Double-A swing, the moment was still a topic of conversation at Wrigley Field.

Manager Dale Sveum, though, was keeping it all in perspective, saying he had yet to see the Baez drive in Tennessee’s eventual 8-2 defeat to Huntsville.

“It’s always nice for anybody to go to another league and your first swing is a home run,” Sveum said. “But these guys still have to develop. It’s not just home runs we’re talking about. It’s getting ready and be completely developed to play at this level.”


Sveum’s joke after learning of Baez’s home run was that the young slugger “owns that league.” After Baez went 0-for-3 the rest of the game, Sveum reiterated his quip, but in the past tense.

By mentioning that young rising players need to be “completely developed” it was a way of stressing defense as much as anything else. The knock on Baez’s game is that he can lose focus while playing on the infield and make costly miscues.

The old saying in baseball is that the good players arrive quickly, but the Cubs are trying to not be in a hurry with such a prized prospect.

“I think a lot of times when they do come fast there is a reason for it,” Sveum said. “That’s because they’re really good players. We’ve all known the good ones and we’ve all known some bad ones that have been rushed to the big leagues too quick, too. I think it’s a big deal to get 1,500-2,000 at-bats in the minor leagues.”

Looking at it that way, Baez has a long way to go. His 303 at-bats this season give him only 614 in his third season in the minor leagues, so there remains a lot of work to be done with the 20-year-old.

“You can go on and on about the development it takes to be fully developed,” Sveum said. “Sometimes it takes more and sometimes it can take less, but I think 1,500-2,000 is the number.”