Cubs pick Javier Baez in first round (video)

Through 8 picks, no team had taken a player ranked under 9th according to Baseball America’s rankings. The Cubs then picked the 18th ranked Javier Baez. (click the link below to read more)

Baez matched up with fellow Puerto Rican native and Florida prep shortstop Francisco Lindor in February in the season’s most heavily scouted high school game, with as many as 100 scouts on hand. Baez and Lindor have more contrasts than similarities, though. Where Lindor is smooth and lauded for his makeup, Baez is explosive and scouts generally pan his makeup. He lives with his high school coach (who is also his legal guardian), though his mother remains in the picture. His bat is too good to ignore, though, and offensively he has few peers in this year’s draft. He has the fastest bat in the draft, and while he has a dead-pull approach at times, he has the bat speed to let balls get deep in the zone. Baez has plus raw power as well, which may serve him well if he has to move to third base. He has the defensive tools to stay at short until he outgrows it, as at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, he doesn’t have much range to spare. He has plenty of arm for either position. His tools fit the catcher profile, but his makeup does not. He plays with energy, but it’s not always positive, and he turns off some scouts with emotional outbursts and an off-field demeanor some describe as aloof. He’s committed to Jacksonville. ranked Baez 16th.

While the college bat scene is relatively thin, there are some very intriguing high school position players available. Baez is certainly one of them, and his name seemed to be moving up boards as the Draft approached. Fellow Floridian Francisco Lindor will likely go off the board first, but Baez may not be that far behind. That’s largely because of his bat. He gets his money’s worth at the plate, and the ball jumps off his bat thanks to excellent bat speed. He doesn’t have the best plate discipline, but he should be an above-average hitter in the future. He’s got good power, especially to the pull side. He’s an average runner who won’t be a basestealer, but he’s OK when under way. Defensively, he likely won’t be able to remain at shortstop, with some thinking he’ll make a good third baseman at the next level. He’s got the arm and good hands for it, and the lack of range at short won’t be an issue. It also looks like he’ll have the bat for the corner spot, and that kind of potential production will likely allow him to be selected as early as the first half of the first round.

I’m not sure what to make about this pick. There were better players on the board, but Baez is close enough that I’m not sure it matters. This definitely isn’t Hayden Simpson or Tyler Colvin and not even close to that. A little disappointing though.

Updates to come

Scouting report by Chris Ransom

My thoughts on Javier Baez.  Baez is one of the more complete prospects in this MLB Draft.  He could be an all star if he improves his plate discipline because the tools are there for Baez to be productive in the bigs.

More to come

Thanks to GW for the video link and Tim Wilken on Baez

The 6-foot, 180-pound Baez throws and bats right-handed. He hit .771 (64-for-83), with 22 home runs, 20 doubles and six triples in his senior year. He stole 28 bases, walked 32 times and struck out three times in leading his school to the National Association of Christian Athletics championship.

That’s impressive batting even in Little League so doing it at high school is even more impressive.

“Javier has a tremendously live bat, is versatile in the field and we are happy to welcome him to the Cubs organization,” said Tim Wilken, Cubs’ director of amateur and professional scouting. “He has a great arm and is a smart baserunner in tune with the game.

“Our scouts got to know Javier and are impressed by his makeup. We saw him catch, play third base and play shortstop. He’s a quiet and thoughtful young man off the field who lets his game speak for itself on the field.”

He’s probably not going to stick at 3rd from what I’ve gathered.

Keith Law had him ranked 20th though admitted he’d probably be taken higher. Here’s a few things he had to say about him.

Baez has crazy bat speed and big future power potential, but needs to find a position and show a little more energy on the field.

At the plate Baez unleashes on every pitch with a max-effort swing that, when he squares a ball up, produces loud, hard contact. He doesn’t shorten up or ever use another approach beyond “swing with all you’ve got,” and he can get too power-happy and start to swing uphill.

He still projects to hit for plus power, but the potential to hit for average will depend on his willingness to cut down his swing when needed.

On defense, he has a plus arm and quick transfers, meaning he should be able to play third base if (as is likely) he outgrows shortstop.

That’s it from me tonight. I’ll post a Day Two thread tomorrow.