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Thursday, August 22, 2013
Plan remains same for surging Baez

By Jesse Rogers

Javier Baez
After two more on Wednesday, Javier Baez now has 33 home runs this season between Single-A and Double-A.
CHICAGO -- Javier Baez continues to thrive at Double-A Tennessee, hitting two more home runs on Wednesday, but the Chicago Cubs haven't changed their public stance on bringing the star prospect to the major leagues when rosters expand in September.

"The numbers sometimes do put you in situations where you start thinking about it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday. "Those are questions for [general manager] Jed [Hoyer] and [president] Theo [Epstein], but I don't see that happening."

Hoyer and Epstein have repeated that notion all season, wanting to be as patient with Baez as they would with any other prospect. Either way, the 20-year-old first-round pick in 2011 is opening eyes around baseball with a special season at both Single-A and Double-A, where he currently plays.

Consider this: After hitting his two home runs on Wednesday, he has 16 in the Southern League (AA) since being promoted in early July. That ranks fifth in the league in just a fraction of the at-bats (176) of the leaders. Even more impressive is he still ranks fifth in home runs (17) in the Florida State League without having an at-bat there in over six weeks.

His 33 combined home runs ranks second in all of minor league baseball behind George Springer from the Houston Astros organization. Springer has 36 combined at Double-A and Triple-A. Baez is three years younger.

"It's hard to do in 142 games," Sveum said. "We have 20 more games than they do. To have a chance at 40 in those leagues, that's not the easiest parks and leagues to hit home runs in. It's impressive. And the 100 RBI is another impressive stat. It's not easy to get 100 RBI in 142 games down there. It's really impressive."

Baez reached the century mark in RBIs on Wednesday, putting him fifth in all of the minor leagues. And again, the four players ahead of him are all older. He's doing things at the age of 20 that no one else in baseball at those levels is doing. Despite his 41 errors, Baez's defense is actually getting better, according to Sveum.

"The errors seem like the thing that comes with experience," Sveum said. "It's not like he's booting balls. It's a lot more like mistakes of stuff he shouldn't throw or things he should do. We all did that at that age. But at least he's making routine plays, now it's just cleaning some stuff up."

When he does, the major leagues can't be that far off.