This article was provided by Comcast SportsNet Chicago
The Cubs are signaling the future is now for Javier Baez, who will join the team in Denver and make his big-league debut on Tuesday night at Coors Field.
It wasn’t just Cubs fans and the Chicago media driving the hype. The move, confirmed by a team source on Monday, will probably get this reaction inside the clubhouse: About time.
Baez has checked all the boxes at Triple-Iowa, moving off shortstop and learning how to play second base, while adjusting to the more advanced pitchers in the Pacific Coast League.
Think Baez might like facing the Colorado Rockies in the mile-high altitude?
He’s hit 76 home runs and put up an .881 OPS in 319 minor-league games since the Jim Hendry administration selected him ninth overall in the 2011 draft out of Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla. The bat speed, vicious swing and production have drawn comparisons to Gary Sheffield, Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Cabrera.
Baez will be a foundation piece in Theo Epstein’s rebuilding project at Wrigley Field. Now the Cubs can give him almost two months to let the shock to the system wear off, and get some of the initial struggles out of the way.
Baez blasted two more homers on Sunday with Iowa, getting red hot after a slow start to the season. He hit .260 with 23 homers, 80 RBI, an .833 OPS and 130 strikeouts in 104 games.
At the age of 21, Baez has also impressed the organization with his professionalism, focus and attention to detail, which happened to be the bigger-picture concerns heading into this season.
Baseball America’s No. 7 overall midseason prospect will join a lineup that already includes 24-year-old All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who both thought Baez could handle The Show.
Jorge Soler — the $30 million Cuban outfielder with a 1.006 OPS through his first 12 games at Iowa — is expected to be a September call-up. A last-place team is about to get a whole lot more interesting. It’s Baez Time.