MESA, Ariz. -- On a day when Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum reiterated to reporters in Las Vegas that a couple of his top prospects would be heading to minor league camp on Monday, some 310 miles away one of them was putting on a show.
The Cubs’ top pick of 2011, Javier Baez, crushed two balls out to left field in the Cubs 8-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals here at Hohokam Park. He also hit two out on Friday -- including the walk off game winner -- against the Japanese team from the WBC.
“I mean two days in a row?” Baez said after Saturday’s performance. “That’s amazing. Great feeling.”
Baez is said to have a “cockiness” about him. But in front of reporters he’s humble. On Saturday he couldn’t help but smile after what he had accomplished over the two days. The second home run on Saturday left the park completely.
“It’s unbelievable,” teammate Alfonso Soriano said. “Two home runs yesterday, two more today. Bombs. It’s very impressive.”
Soriano also homered, but Cubs fans have seen that many times before. Soriano will soon be the past. Baez is the future. The four home runs came over the course of seven pitches. Three came on three pitches.
“I just like hitting the first fastball I see,” Baez explained. “Sometimes I miss it, sometimes I hit it far.”
This is all leading to the moment when Baez is sent to the minors -- more than likely Class A-Daytona. Is that the way it should be for a 101-loss team? The brightest prospect in camp gets sent all the way down the minor league ladder?
“There’s no rush,” split-squad manager Jamie Quirk said after the game. “Some guys are special. His talents will take him as quickly as he needs to be, but there is no rush.
“Obviously that’s why he was drafted where he was, and hopefully he keeps doing what he’s doing. He’s pretty special.”
General manager Jed Hoyer and team president Theo Epstein have never wavered. Baez and other top prospects, like Jorge Soler, need seasoning. And plenty of it. It’s hard to argue with that notion.
No one knows if Baez is ready, but perhaps only harm can come by rushing him. If he is capable of playing in the big leagues now, he certainly will be in a year or whenever they deem him ready. The Cubs aren’t winning a World Series this year with or without Baez so, arguing he’s “needed” doesn’t hold water.
“My goal was to show them I can play the game every day and I came to play every day,” Baez said.
He had a slow start to camp -- even Sveum mentioned his need to learn -- but over the past few weeks his talent and instincts have been obvious.
His legend grew some on Friday, when he predicted he would end the game against Japan as he did breaking a 5-5 tie with a long ball.
“We had a bet, but whatever,” Baez said downplaying the moment.
When it was pointed out he won, he smiled again.
“Yeah I did,” he said.