18. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs
Starlin's successor? DP partner?
Baez, 20, was drafted ninth overall by the Cubbies and signed for $2.7 million back in 2011. He played in only five contests between the Arizona Rookie League and Low-A Boise in '11. At Single-A Peoria and high Class A Daytona last year, Baez put up a slash line of .294/.346/.543 with 16 home runs, 46 RBIs and 24 stolen bases in 293 at-bats.
Baez is a strong, athletic shortstop that has the size (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) to be a power-hitting star at the position. His swing can be long at times, but his bat speed makes up for that, and he attacks pitches with intent to do serious damage. When he squares the ball up, he makes loud contact and the ball jumps off his lumber. His aggressiveness at the dish can hurt him, though, and his plate discipline (69 K's and just 14 walks last season) needs to improve. The addition of his 25-plus-stolen-base potential gives him high upside as one of the top middle infield prospects.
Some evaluators think Baez is eventually destined to move to third base, but he moves well enough and has a strong enough arm to stick at short. However, with Chicago signing Starlin Castro to a seven-year deal last August, Baez will have to move around to make an impact at the big league level in this organization. Skipper Dale Sveum has Baez working some at second base this spring, but at his size, third base is probably the more realistic option. Baez is receiving plenty of looks this spring, but he'll likely start in the minors. If he continues to hit, the Cubs will put him on the fast track and will certainly find a position for him if Castro remains in the picture.
On to No. 19
Top fantasy baseball prospects - AL 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25
Top fantasy baseball prospects - NL 1-5 | 6-10 | 11-15 | 16-20 | 21-25
About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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