The beauty of spring training is the chance for fans to get a glimpse of the future before it becomes reality.
But while top prospect Javier Baez will get a chance to strut his stuff in Cactus League play, the Cubs confirmed Sunday he will not open the season on the major league roster.
The 20-year-old shortstop will report to camp as a non-roster invitee to gain experience, meaning Starlin Castro doesn’t have to look over his shoulder just yet.
“He’s here to get a feel for what big league camp is all about, see how these guys go about their business,” general manager Jed Hoyer said of Baez. “It’s nice for fans to be able to see him, nice for us to be able to see him. But it’s not about making the major league team. This is about (getting) experience.”
President Theo Epstein said Baez “has a lot of work to do” before he gets a call-up and is likely to start out at Class A Daytona. Epstein said they “prefer guys to spend just about a full year” in Triple A before getting the call. Baez hit .333 at Class A Peoria with a .979 OPS last year before struggling in a call-up at Daytona, hitting only .188 in 23 games.
Manager Dale Sveum said Baez will play at short and second in Cactus League games.
“He’s a shortstop and he’s going to play shortstop,” Sveum said. “If he happens to get into a game at third or second base, it will just be because of flat numbers. It’s not that we need to take a look at him anywhere else. That will be a development question down the road. Maybe to get his bat in the lineup in spring training, you might see him at second base. I don’t know about third base right now.”
Castro, who turns 23 on March 24, needs to maintain his focus in the field, the Cubs concede, but will remain at short for the immediate future. Epstein said Castro still must make some “fundamental adjustments and mental adjustments” to reach his potential. There has been speculation Castro would be moved for Baez at some point.
Top prospect Baez won't open season on Cubs' roster
Chicago Tribune | Feb 11