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Tuesday, September 10, 2013
GM: Baez as good as he's seen -- in minors

By Jesse Rogers


CINCINNATI -- Calling Chicago Cubs prospect Javier Baez's minor league season a "special one," general manager Jed Hoyer contends he's still probably not ready to make the big league club out of spring training next year.

"Personally, in my career, it's as good a minor league season as I've seen," Hoyer said before the Cubs played the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday.

Baez hit 37 home runs combined in Single-A and Double-A, driving in 111 runs and stealing 20 bases. His season came to an end Monday night when Tennessee was eliminated in the semifinals of the Southern League. It was the same night Single-A Daytona won the Florida State League championship with a dominant performance on the mound throughout the playoffs.

"To be honest, it's a little bit exciting, because of three of the four starters we traded for midseason," Hoyer said. "They have long futures with the Cubs."

Corey Black came from the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano, CJ Edwards from Texas for Matt Garza, and Ivan Pineyro was brought in from Washington for Scott Hairston. That group helped pitch four shutouts in six playoff games.

"That was a pretty dominant performance," Hoyer said. "The fact they finished strong says a lot about their development."

But Baez is still the player that will excite the fan base the most. His bat speed has been likened to Gary Sheffield and his at-bats are quickly becoming must-watches. The most impressive statistic of his season, according to Hoyer, is his age. He's only 20.

"There's a list of guys that slugged over .600 at his age; it's a pretty special list," Hoyer said.

That list includes Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Morneau, Andruw Jones, and of course, Sheffield. He did at 17 years old. Baez is in good company.

Hoyer also indicated prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler should be ready for the Arizona Fall League as they recover from injuries. They, along with 2013 top pick Kris Bryant, as well as Baez will play on the same team come this fall. Hoyer says there's a good chance those guys will be moving around the diamond learning new positions, especially Baez, who currently plays shortstop.

"We want versatile guys," he said. "We know he can play shortstop. We want to be able to move him around to second and third and play different positions. We'll probably do the same thing with Bryant and Almora in the outfield."

The ultimate question about next year was put to Hoyer. Do any of these names have a chance to play for the Cubs coming out of spring training?

"It's likely none of those guys is going to start the season in the big leagues, so as we make out a lineup card for our 25-man roster that's not going to be a part of it," he said.