Originally posted on The Sports Bank  |  Last updated 9/12/13
In the first installment of our Chicago Cubs 2013 minor league All-Star team, we selected four pitchers, two starters and two relievers.  As starters, we selected right-handers Kyle Hendricks, the presumptive pitcher of the year in the Cubs organization, and Pierce Johnson.  For our bullpen, we chose left-handers Zach Rosscup and Hunter Cervenka.  In our second installment, we selected catcher Rafael Lopez, first baseman Dustin Geiger and second baseman Arismendy Alcantara.  Today, we select our All-Star shortstop and third baseman and those who deserve honorable mention at those positions.   Right-handed hitting Javier Baez is not only the shortstop for our Chicago Cubs minor league All-Star team, but he is clearly the top prospect in the Cubs system and might very well be the top prospect in all of major league baseball.  Beaz, just 20, split 2013 between Advanced A Daytona and AA Tennessee, helping both clubs reach the postseason.  Daytona won the Florida State League championship , and Tennessee lost a deciding game five in the first round of the Southern League playoffs.  In 76 games and 337 plate appearances for Daytona, Baez batted .274 with seventeen homers, 57 RBI, nineteen doubles and 59 runs scored.   He drew 21 walks, slugged .535, produced an OBP of .338 and stole twelve bases in fourteen attempts.   Baez was then promoted to Tennessee, where he debuted on July 6 and showed marked improvement in virtually every offensive category.  In 54 games and 240 plate appearances, Baez hit .294, slugged .638 and produced an OBP of .346.  He blasted 20 home runs, added fifteen doubles and drove in 54 runs.  He also scored 39 runs, stole eight bases in ten attempts and walked nineteen times.  He finished the season with a minor league best 111 RBI and tied for second with 37 home runs.  While Baez’s 40 walks in 577 plate appearances equate to one walk for every 14.4 plate appearances, he improved from last year when he averaged a walk for every 21 plate appearances.   Chicago Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer recently said that Baez still has developmental time to serve in the minors before joining the Cubs.  There is also the elephant-in-the-room question of what position Baez will play once reaching the majors.  Baez is one of eight Cubs minor leaguers scheduled to participate in the Arizona Fall League starting October 8.  Baez will likely receive playing time this Fall at second base and elsewhere to make him a compatible fit with current Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro if the latter proves that 2013 was an anomalous slump season.  If Castro fails to regain his performance level from 2010 to 2012, Baez might ultimately be the future shortstop for the Cubs.  While the position he plays is to be determined, Baez is highly likely to be playing at the Friendly Confines at some point in 2014.   The only other shortstop who logged time in the Cubs’ minor league system this season who merits honorable mention is Donnie Murphy, whose contract was purchased by the Cubs from AAA Iowa on August 3.  Prior to joining the Cubs, the 30-year-old veteran right-handed hitter of eight major league seasons had appeared in 89 games for Iowa, including 73 at shortstop, covering 340 plate appearances.  He batted .265 with eighteen doubles, twelve homers and 41 RBI.  He slugged .457 and produced an OBP of .338.  In 30 games as a Cub, 27 at third base, Murphy, who is arbitration eligible next season and not a free agent until 2015, has probably carved out a role for himself as the right-handed hitting half of a third base platoon with Luis Valbuena until someone, likely 2013 first-round selection Kris Bryant, is ready to assume the position fulltime.  In 122 plate appearances with the Cubs, Murphy, whose career major league average entering this season was below .220, is batting .282 with ten homers, seven doubles and 20 RBI to complement a .618 slugging percentage and .352 OBP.   Christian Villanueva was as easy a choice to fill third base on our All-Star roster as Baez was shortstop, with the irony being that Villanueva is not even the best third base prospect in the Cubs system.  Right-handed hitting Villanueva, 22, was acquired along with pitcher Hendricks in the Ryan Dempster deal in July of 2012.  Considered an ace defender, Villanueva also enjoyed a solid season with the lumber playing for Tennessee.  In 133 games and 542 plate appearances, he batted .261 and produced an OBP of .317.  He led the Southern League in doubles with 41, was fourth in RBI with 72, was tied for fifth in home runs with nineteen and was sixth in slugging percentage at .469.   The greatest obstacle for Villanueva to become a fixture at third base for the Cubs is Bryant, who merits honorable mention but did not qualify for our roster because he tallied only 36 games and 146 plate appearances.  After two games with Arizona, Bryant, 21, spent eighteen more with Boise of the short-season Northwest League, after which he promoted beyond Kane County to Daytona and appeared in additional sixteen games.  Overall he batted .336 with an OBP of .390 and a slugging percentage of .688.  He scored 22 runs, drove in 32 and walloped fourteen doubles and nine homers.  Bryant is also slated to represent the Cubs in the Arizona Fall League.  One other third baseman who deserves honorable mention is switch-hitting Jeimer Candelario, who played the entire season for Kane County at just nineteen years of age.  In 572 plate appearances, the Candy Man batted .256 with an OBP of .346 and slugging percentage of .396.  His 35 doubles tied for third and his 68 walks for seventh in the Midwest League.  He also tallied 71 runs, hit eleven homers and drove in 57 runs.  Where Candelario and Villanueva figure in the Cubs’ plans with the presence of the emerging Bryant is a script that has yet to be written.   Check back tomorrow as we reveal our Cubs minor league All-Star outfielders and also those who merit honorable mention at those positions.   The post Chicago Cubs minor league All-Stars part 3: Boom Boom Baez appeared first on The Sports Bank.Net.
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