<
>

Cubs' 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez returns to the majors

CHICAGO -- Cubs 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez is one of four players being recalled from Triple-A Iowa as rosters expand on Tuesday, the team announced after their 13-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.

Baez, 22, returns to the majors for the first time since the end of 2014 when he was up for the final 52 games of the season, hitting nine home runs while striking out 95 times in 213 at-bats. He was cut from big league camp in spring training as his approach and mechanics needed work. Baez has one of the most violent swings in the game but his offensive game came with some negatives including swinging at bad pitches.

After suffering through a death in his family and then a wrist injury earlier this season, Baez finally got some consistent at-bats and began to put up good numbers at Triple-A Iowa. In fact he was on a 16-game hitting streak at the time of his recall. Overall, he hit .324 with a .385 on-base percentage and 13 home runs for Iowa this season. He's expected to see time against left-handed pitching and play second and third base but it's unknown how much he'll start. An injury to right fielder Jorge Soler has opened the door for manager Joe Maddon to move people around while finding the right place for Baez

"There's a lot of things he can do to help you win now," Maddon said.

Since the time Maddon saw Baez in spring training he's raved about his defense and baseball instincts. With Starlin Castro making four errors over the last two days it's possible Baez could be a defensive replacement in the infield if nothing else. He's waited all season to make it back to the majors but in order to play regularly he'll have to show he can hit big league pitching.

Being called up with Baez are newcomers Quintin Berry and Trevor Cahill. Berry is a speed guy who will be used primarily as a pinch-runner while Cahill will be called upon to eat some innings when others need a breather. Lefty Tsuyoshi Wada is also being recalled. The Cubs haven't indicated how they'll use Wada as he's started 16 games for Iowa this year to go along with seven more for the Cubs.

Anyone on the Cubs 40-man roster can play for the team throughout the next month and be eligible for the postseason. The Cubs will call up several other players throughout September. Iowa's season goes until Sept. 7.