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Baez primed for more reps in Spring Training


MESA, Ariz. -- With shortstop Starlin Castro sidelined a few days because of a tight hamstring, Cubs top prospect Javier Baez will most likely get more at-bats in Cactus League games.

Baez, 20, has shown impressive bat speed, and he knocked down Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon with a hard-hit ball Wednesday.

"I think I've seen balls hit as hard, but I don't think I've ever seen a ball hit harder," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "That was like balls that [Gary] Sheffield used to hit."

The Cubs' No. 1 pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Baez batted .333 in 57 games with Class A Peoria last season and hit .188 in 23 games when promoted to Class A Daytona. He still has some growing up to do.

"It's just like any 19-year-old shortstop who has ever played the game; there's a lot of development left," Sveum said of Baez. "A lot of young shortstops, with all the ability, they just have to learn their arm slot, they have to learn which arm slot is best for them. Am I a finesse guy when I throw it to first base? Am I going to power the ball over there?

"It takes some time and game speed to find out what a young player is going to be, what kind of guy is he going to be. Is he going to be an Alan Trammell, where everything is perfect? Is he going to be maybe like Castro, where things aren't exactly prototypical but he makes good throws in an unorthodox way? Or will he be a [Troy] Tulowitzki and do everything on the run?

"When you're on the left side of the field, there's so many things that come into play and so many things you have to have in your tool box with your arm angles that it takes a lot of development before you get the finished project."

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }
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