One of the things that is keeping the hopes of Chicago Cubs fans high during their current rebuild is the bumper crop of prospects that they have waiting in the wings, ready to come into the picture over the next few seasons.
Two of those players who have gotten the most attention are shortstop Javier Baez and third baseman Kris Bryant. Both players have gotten off to remarkable starts to their minor league careers, and both could potentially find their way onto the Cubs roster toward the tail end of the 2014 season if they play their cards right.
Cubs fans aren’t the only ones taking notice of the duo’s abilities, however. Multiple media organizations, including ESPN and Baseball Prospectus, have both praised their talents up and down, and to that effect, BP released a list of players who have the most exciting skill sets as they make their way towards the major leagues.
When it comes to power, Baseball Prospectus says that Baez has the “top power in the minor leagues,” and describes their rationale for coming to that decision:
“Among the prospects in the game with elite raw power, Baez takes the cake because of his ability to translate that power to game situations. Despite being an ultra-aggressive hitter, Baez’s ability to consistently make contact allows him to tap into his raw power and could lead to him dropping 35-40 bombs a year in the majors. Elite raw power is rare, but the ability to bring that type of raw from batting practice into games is even rarer. Of the players considered for this list, Baez is clearly the best bet to actualize his top-of-the-scale raw power, and he could begin doing that as soon as this summer.”
Projections aren’t necessarily indicative of future success, but considering the success that BP has had in terms of its mathematical prowess, this news has to be welcome for Cubs fans optimistic about Baez’s eventual arrival on the north side. His power numbers in high-A and double-A last season were stellar, with 37 home runs, 111 RBI, and 20 stolen bases (while only being caught four times) in 130 games. He also scored 98 runs, and racked up 34 doubles.
His strikeout numbers were high, with 147 to his credit, but his OPS of .920 more than makes up for the high strikeout total.
Needless to say, there are plenty of reasons to be bullish on Baez’s prospects as a major leaguer, and this is just one more piece of evidence to support that thought process on the part of Cubs fans. If Baez can become an everyday hitter in the team’s lineup in the near future, then it could very well have a positive impact on the entire squad that Rick Renteria will be able to field.
Having a guy capable of that kind of power in the middle of the lineup allows for other guys to hit in areas they are more comfortable in, and that can only be a good thing on an offensively challenged club like the Cubs.