SAN FRANCISCO -- Cubs reliever Blake Parker thought the longest home run he'd ever seen was hit by former teammate Brad Snyder off the right-hander in the Minor Leagues. That was until Cubs top prospect Javier Baez connected recently for Triple-A Iowa.
Parker, called up Tuesday when Wesley Wright was placed on paternity leave, has had a front-row seat to watch Baez, who was batting .225 at Iowa with seven home runs and 25 RBIs. Baez has been the focus of attention as Cubs fans keep wondering when the shortstop will be promoted to the big leagues.
"I think he's handling it real well," Parker said Wednesday. "Early in the season, I think he had high expectations for himself. He wanted to do a whole lot for the team; he always wants to produce for the team. He's staying within himself now and he's producing for us and doing what he's supposed to be doing."
Baez also has struck out 56 times in 151 at-bats at Iowa.
"He's a free swinger, obviously," Parker said. "He gets his hacks in -- that's his game. Swinging at good pitches is the key to him having success and hitting the ball for power."
So, how close is Baez to the big leagues?
"He's coming," Parker said.
Another player to keep an eye on is Iowa second baseman Arismendy Alcantara, who was batting .281 with five homers and 25 RBIs.
"He's one of those guys you see coming up to the plate, and you think, 'Here's a little slap lefty' and then he drops the head on you for a homer or a double," Parker said. "He's producing and getting hits when there are runners on base. He's doing the same thing -- seeing good pitches and working at-bats and playing the role he needs to play. He's playing a good second base. He's another guy to watch. He's another real impressive player."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.