RAPIDS, Iowa — The Perfect Game All-American Classic is an annual
event that features the best high school talent in the country. This
year, the game’s 10th installment, will be played August 12 at PETCO Park in San Diego,
home of the Padres. Rosters
were announced last Thursday.
prestigious event has produced several MLB first-round picks,
including: Justin Upton, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Andrew
McCutchen, Jason Heyward, Eric Hosmer, Bryce Harper, Carlos Correa
and Javier Baez.
a Puerto Rican born shortstop, played in the 2010 All-American
Classic with fellow top picks Francisco Lindor, Jose Fernandez,
Archie Bradley and Dylan Bundy.
was exciting,” Baez said of playing — and hitting a triple — in
the All-American Classic. “That was my first time playing in front
of so many fans. It was different, a bigger field. But you still have
to do your job.”
performance in San Diego catapulted him up draft boards last spring.
In June, he was drafted ninth overall by the Chicago Cubs and signed
for $2.6 million.
then, Baez has done nothing but impress. After a short stint in the
Arizona and Northwest Leagues last season, he’s crushed opposing
pitching for the Peoria Chiefs (A) of the Midwest League this year.
165 plate appearances this season, Baez is batting .331/.394/.581
with 17 extra-base hits — including eight home runs — and 16
his tools stand out on the field,” Chiefs manager Casey Kopitzke
said last week before a game against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. “He
does a lot of things well and affects the game in multiple ways, not
just with his bat or glove, but with his base running.”
Monday, Baez was named the Midwest League player of the week after
hitting 11-for-23 (.478) with three home runs, two doubles, a triple
and two stolen bases in six games.
just try to get better every day and work hard,” Baez said. “I
see the ball pretty well and I’m doing pretty well here. I’m just
trying to hit the ball to the right side and improve my swing.”
was relatively unknown when he wowed scouts at the 2010 National
Showcase. He played in three PG events that year, including the WWBA World Championship as part of the FTB Mizuno organization.
National Director of Scouting David Rawnsley raved about Baez’s “lightning quick hands” and “intriguing
potential behind the plate,” even though his primary positions are
third base and shortstop.
installed as Peoria’s every day shortstop, Baez realizes his future
may be somewhere else on the diamond.
have Starlin Castro playing shortstop in Chicago and he’s young and
pretty good too,” Baez said. “I’ll let them decide where I
his projectable build with room to grow — he’s listed at
6-foot-1, 205 pounds — Baez may profile better at third base. He
also mentioned second base as a possible future destination.
January, PG Scouting Coordinator Todd Gold ranked Baez as the Cubs’ fourth best prospect behind Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo and Matt
Szczur. According to Gold, Baez has “exceptional raw tools across
the board, with speed being the only tool that grades as merely
on his 2012 performance, some in the PG office believe Baez will be
the Cubs’ top-ranked prospect heading into next season.
manager has been especially thrilled with him this season as well,
not only with his ability, but how he’s adjusted to playing every
been really impressive, the way he’s gone about being prepared
mentally and competing every single day,” Kopitzke said. “It’s
really good to see, because that’s usually the biggest adjustment
you see from guys in their first year, but he’s done a nice job.”
will turn 20 years old in December. While he’s excited to “get to
the top as soon as possible,” he knows a promotion is out of his
don’t decide when I get to play at Wrigley Field,” Baez said. “I
just keep improving my game, keep playing hard every day and prepare
for every game. When they think I’m ready, they’ll move me up.”