CHICAGO -- At first glance, 20-year-old Chicago Cubs prospect Javier Baez’s promotion to Double-A Tennessee was probably a result of his monster June at the plate, when he was named the organization’s player of the month. After all, Baez hit .300 with a league-leading nine home runs for Class-A Daytona to go along with 28 runs batted in in just 24 games.
But in reality it’s his .390 on-base percentage in those 24 games that might be responsible for his promotion. The Cubs want Baez to walk once every 10 plate appearances or so and he basically achieved that number in June.
“The walk total has been important to us and he had a pretty good last four weeks that way,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said on Saturday.
For the season Baez is still only walking once every 16 plate appearances, but that jumped in June when he walked nine times in 104 appearances at the plate. Additionally, he got on base five more times by getting hit by a pitch, so including that number Baez reached once every 7.5 plate appearances without putting the ball in play in June.
“There’s still some unfocused at-bats at times; that’s part of the maturity process but I think he did a good job of controlling the strike zone at high Class-A the last month,” Hoyer said.
Defensively, Hoyer said the 2011 first-round pick has “gotten better” but likened him to current shortstop Starlin Castro.
“He’s going to have to eliminate some careless errors,” Hoyer said.
Now he’ll get his chance at a much steeper level of competition. The jump from Class-A to Double-A is one of the bigger hikes, probably the biggest in the minors according to Hoyer. Hoyer says Baez is ahead of schedule by about a “month or so” and was quick to eliminate thoughts of a 2013 major league debut.
“I think it’s highly unlikely,” Hoyer said. “I hate to say ‘no chance’ simply to take the carrot away from someone but that’s not our plan.”
For the year Baez hit .274 with 17 home runs and 57 runs batted in before being promoted.