Is the Cubs’ Javier Baez the next breakout baseball star? We may be seeing it now

first_imgJoe Maddon hadn’t even buttoned up a Cubs jersey when he went to Puerto Rico.In the fall of 2014, the new manager saw 21-year-old Javier Baez and made his first call.“We’re better off with him on the field,” Maddon said.That’s anywhere on the field. Baez was a catcher in high school, at times. He was drafted as a shortstop. This year he was mostly at second base and third base, particularly when Kris Bryant would play left field. “This time, as soon as the ball was hit, I saw Pederson getting out of the box hard. I saw Gonzalez coming back to the base. You obviously don’t want to show anybody up, but it’s fun to have a play like that.”Baez is known as the quickest tagger in the game. Tim Wilken is the Arizona scouting director who had that position with the Cubs in 2011 and drafted Baez. He’s just as impressed with Baez’s sliding.“There’s been three times this year when he slid into a base and they said he was out and the call got overturned,” Wilken said. “He’s got that great swim move. He reaches out with his right hand and brings it back and reaches over with his left. Everybody’s got a 20-to-80 scouting system. He’s 70 in almost everything, but he’s off those charts in instincts.”“When I see the guy has the ball and is waiting to tag me, I’m not giving up,” Baez said“He’s a young colt,” Wilken said.The Cubs are baseball’s Calumet Farm. Eight of their essential offensive players are 26 or younger. There are seeds of a dynasty here. Baez was planted in 2011, the No. 9 pick in that draft.His family moved to Jacksonville, Fla. from Puerto Rico. Francisco Lindor, the Cleveland shortstop, made the same trip and landed in Orlando. The two met on the diamond when Baez’s Arlington Country Day High played Lindor’s Montverde Academy. “A little high school stadium and 150 scouts,” Baez said, smiling. “I hope we’re both in the World Series. It would be great for Puerto Rico.”By then, Arlington Country Day’s team had been banned from the state playoffs because of basketball irregularities. “So they barnstormed,” Wilken said. “They were kind of like the Globetrotters against the Washington Generals.”The Cubs’ area scout was Tom Clark, who’d coached several Puerto Ricans at a junior college and knew Baez’s occasional flamboyance was harmless. Wilken eventually told Clark to quit attending Baez’s games, that he was already sold and he didn’t want other clubs to get wise.Baez debuted in 2014, as his sister Noely was beginning to lose her fight against spina bifida. Preoccupied and struggling, he struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances. This year he cut it down to 30 percent, and he hit .273 with 59 RBIs.“Teams are seeing the value of good young athletes who can move around,” Zobrist said. “They’re controllable pieces. Ten years ago, it was the oldest guy who was a former starter who got turned into the utility guy. That’s changing.”And the tattoo on Baez’s neck, the one that says “MVP”? He got it seven years ago.“The first one I ever got,” he said. It’s not officially licensed, but it’s authentic. Basically he’s the queen of the chessboard for the Cubs, who engage the Dodgers in Game 3 of the N.L. Championship Series Tuesday night.“It’s incredible, how quickly he makes decisions,” said Ben Zobrist, another multi-tasker who settled into left field for Chicago. “If you’ve never seen a lot of baseball and you’re watching it now, you need to know that what you’re watching is pretty special.”Baez made Clayton Kershaw’s cold, cold heart skip a beat when his Game 2 drive sent Joc Pederson to the track. He got trapped off third base in Game 1 and turned it into a steal of home. He won Game 1 of the Division Series with an eighth-inning homer off Johnny Cueto. He clinched the Division Series with an RBI single.In Game 2 Sunday, with Dodgers on first and second and one out, Pederson sent a soft liner toward Baez. Instead of catching it, Baez let it drop and turned to get a force play at second. Then Baez started yelling “3, 3,” at shortstop Addison Russell, who turned and got Adrian Gonzalez in a rundown between second and third, vaporizing a Dodger rally in what turned out to be a 1-0 Cubs loss.“I tried that once before, in Triple-A,” Baez said. “The runner wound up scoring. You make a mistake and you learn from it.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

Wellington teams lose in Andale; Oxford boys overwhelm Central-Burden

first_img Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. There are no comments posted yet. Be the first one! Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — The Wellington varsity basketball teams fell to Andale Tuesday to open the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Div. IV season. Plus other Sumner County basketball action…Varsity girls: Andale 48 Wellington 44The Wellington girls basketball team played Andale down to the wire but still could not get past the Lady Indians on the road. Not sure if the Lady Dukes have ever won in Andale’s gym. Tuesday they came close against the preseason favorite.The game came down to the last eight seconds of the game before Andale secured the win on a free throw.Andale took a 14-9 first quarter lead and held a 24-19 advantage at the half. Wellington then took the lead in the third quarter 34-28 outscoring the Indians 16-9. But Andale came back with a 15-9 output in the fourth for the victory.Scoring for Wellington was Carlie McComb with 18, Lauryn Snipes 14, Tayland French 3, Taylor Zimmerman 3, Jaedyn Ledesma 3, Lereia Salvador 2, and Holly Wright 1.Wellington is now 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league. The Crusaders travel to Wichita Collegiate on Friday before the Christmas break.Varsity boys: Andale 56 Wellington 44The Wellington boys fell to Andale in the league opener.The Indians took a 20-14 first quarter lead and led 30-21 at the half. The Crusaders held tough in the second half, but. would eventually fall behind by double digits for the loss.Wesley Gilmore was the leading scorer with 11 points for the Crusaders. Austin Dunn had 10, Colin Reichenberger 6, Trevor Nance 6, Connor Phelps 4, Payton Baker 3, and Parker Daugherty 2.Wellington is now 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league. The Crusaders trade to Wichita Collegiate on Friday before the Christmas break.In junior varsity action, Wellington beat Andale 64-32. C-team lost to Andale 58-38.Sumner County:Boys: Oxford 74 Central-Burden 34Oxford opened up a 20-9 first-quarter lead and was in front 41-21 en route to victory.“We played a very young team tonight here at home,” said Kyle Green, Oxford head boys basketball coach. “We did a nice job tonight running our zone offense and getting good looks out of it.”Oxford is 2-2 on the year.Other Sumner County scores:Boys:Conway Springs 50 Garden Plaine 48,Wichita Trinity 74 Belle Plaine 52Girls:Wichita Trinity 55 Belle Plaine 19Garden Plain 37 Conway Springs 20Caldwell 51 Argonia 35last_img read more