Well, the Chicago Cubs did it. They finally did something interesting, outside of trading notable veterans. This is the point where it starts to become very exciting to be a Cubs fan, as their group of highly touted prospects start to make their way to the big leagues. That starts with the callup of super prospect Javier Baez (although Arismendy Alcantara, a notable prospect in his own right, has been up for quite a bit now), who is set to make his Major League debut on Tuesday evening.
The move comes on the heels of a final Triple-A game in which Baez homered twice and walked twice. After a slow start in Iowa, something that has been relatively common for him as he’s transitioned between levels, he’s been absolutely mashing of late. There are certainly going to be growing pains at the big league level, especially given Baez’s propensity for whiffing, but it’s still an extremely exciting move nonetheless.
And it’s one that signals the next, and most important, phase of this lengthy rebuilding prospect for the Chicago Cubs. Baez is the one positive thing that Jim Hendry left with the organization after his departure, as he was his final first round draft pick. Of course, one could make the argument that the Cubs’ patience and development process with Baez is much more improved than it would have been under a Hendry-led franchise.
With the callup of Baez, and the presence of Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler in Iowa, the Cubs can begin their transition from lowly rebuilding ballclub to National League contender. With Baez now on the Cubs’ infield, it’s a group that includes Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Welington Castillo, and now Baez. That’s 4/5 of what can be considered a very good infield, provided Baez pans out. Add in Alcantara in centerfield and Luis Valbuena at third for the time being, and this is suddenly a team well worth watching.
It’s very possible that we could be looking at a Jorge Soler callup before the end of the year arrives as well. He’s been performing well in Iowa since his callup from Double-A, and it’s very likely that he’s on the fast track to the bigs now that he’s completely healthy. It was health that stalled his development from the beginning. There aren’t service time issues to be concerned about like the Cubs may be considering with Kris Bryant. Addison Russell has been raking in Double-A, and should be headed to Iowa in the near future, if not at the end of this season, at the beginning of next.
Regardless of when we see the likes of Soler and Bryant at Wrigley Field, the Baez callup is very representative of the upcoming shift in philosophy for the Cubs. They’re going to look at some rather expensive and high-profile pitching this winter. The shift in mentality could assure Cubs fans of watching a strong ballclub next season. World Series contender? Probably not. However, being in the mix for a spot in the postseason doesn’t seem entirely out of the question.
That type of mentality starts with the callup of Javier Baez, and continues as these prospects continue to make their way to Chicago, in addition to potential moves this winter to show that this team is now in a new phase. With a pair of All Stars on the infield, upcoming super prospects, and rotation pieces like Jake Arrieta and an impressive Kyle Hendricks, this team is clearly on the correct track, as so many in the game have pointed out in the last couple years.
So bask in the glory of the debut of Javy Baez, Cub fans. He may strike out multiple times in a game a couple times a week, but each and every time he makes contact, it’s going to be a glorious sound, and it’s going to represent a new era for the long-suffering organization.