Chicago Cubs rookie Javier Baez could not have asked for a better start to his major league career. Going hitless in his first five at-bats, he wound up hitting the game-winning home run in the 12th inning against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. Obviously, his first career home run. He hit 23 of them this year at Triple A Iowa so they know he has the power.
Unfortunately it has been his only hit so far, he’s only 1-10 (.100 average) during his brief 2-game career. More hits will come with playing time.
Coming to a Cubs team stuck in 5th place in the NL Central with only a 48-64 record, he’s expected to come and grow with the rest of the team.
Let’s face it — they have not been to the postseason since 2008 and it will probably be at least another 2-3 years before they can even think about the playoffs again.
They are doing it the right way — with young players who are still developing.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo is probably one of baseball’s next superstars, as he is enjoying his best season with 25 HR’s and shortstop Starlin Castro has bounced back from a bad season last year with a solid year.
Keep in mind that Castro is only 24 years old and Rizzo turns 25 in two days (August 8th). They have ALOT of baseball to play still and they were both All-Star‘s this season.
Also only 24 years old, outfielder Junior Lake was signed as an amateur free agent in 2007, made the big league club last July and hit .324 during the first 35 games of his career. He faltered the rest of the season and has dropped off even more this year, hitting only .217 during the 2014 season. I still think he could be a great piece on a winning team in the future, so I’m not completely ready to write him off just yet.
They felt confident enough in #36 overall prospect Arismendy Alcantara (22 years old), who plays second base and center field, to trade Emilio Bonifacio, who also plays second base and center field, to the Atlanta Braves right before the trade deadline. Alcantara was only called up temporarily while former Cub Darwin Barney was on paternity leave, but they saw something in Alcantara to trade Barney away to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It doesn’t stop at the major league level though. All of those losing seasons resulted in some high draft picks, which has resulted in some talent on the farm.
They took outfielder Albert Almora with the #6 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft — he’s currently ranked as the #40 prospect and is playing at Double A Tennessee. He has had to battle injuries but scouts are saying he has five-tool potential if healthy.
They received the #6 prospect and the 11th pick in the 11′ draft Shortstop Addison Russell in the Jeff Samardzija trade and he’s also shooting up the minor league ladder despite also dealing with some injuries, currently also playing at AA Tennessee.
Their top prospect and #3 overall, third baseman Kris Bryant has hit 36 HR’s this season between Double A and Triple A Iowa and he seems well on his way to the majors, if not this year, then definitely 2015.
They also have Jorge Soler, an outfielder from Cuba who was signed the same year that fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Yasiel Puig were signed, but injuries — including a hamstring this season has held him back. He’s ranked as the #53 overall prospect and he showed why in July, winning the Cubs Minor League player of the month, hitting .406 with 8 HR’s and 19 RBI’s in 24 games between AA and AAA.
Between the players that have already made the big leagues who are showing what the future holds for the Cubs and the youngsters playing in the Future’s game, it’s looking good for the Cubs offense in a couple of years.
Their pitching? That is another story and another problem.
– Khristian Peel
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