Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez Will Be on the Cubs' 2014 Opening Day Roster

Jared DwyerCorrespondent IIIMarch 18, 2013

It has already been decided that Javier Baez will not break camp as part of the major league roster.  Also, Theo Epstein previously stated the organization wants its best prospects to spend at least one full season at the Triple-A level.

But compare the spring training numbers of Javier Baez to those of the player considered to be the best prospect in all of baseball—by ESPN, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB—Jurickson Profar.

In 14 spring games, Javy has a stat line of .324/.343/.706 with four home runs and eight RBI—plus an additional two home runs in an exhibition game against Japan’s WBC team on Friday.  Whereas Jurickson Profar’s stat line in 16 games is .222/.349/.306 with zero home runs and five RBI.

Although Profar has played over three-and-a-half times as many minor league games as Baez, Javier’s spring training performance was impressive enough to allow him to skip a grade or two, so to speak.

That being the case, the Chicago Cubs could go forward mimicking the Texas Rangers’ handling of Profar with how they handle Baez along the Rangers’ 2012 timeframe.

Last year the Texas Rangers called up Profar from their Double-A affiliate for a cup of coffee at the end of the season after playing 304 games over two-and-half years in their minor league system. 

Now, he is being considered for their Opening Day roster.

But since Javy is a year behind Profar—only if you agree with the quip about his play being well enough to "skip a grade"—it is understandable that the Cubs would not want him to begin 2013 with the big league club. 

If the Cubs decide to option Baez to Iowa or Tennessee, it would allow him to face similar competition to what he has seen in spring training—although more so with Iowa than Tennessee.  Doing this would also help expedite his eventual MLB call-up.

Taking both scenarios into consideration, Javier Baez could realistically receive his first call-up either late this season or, at the latest, in 2014.

His performance at the organization’s minor league camp will dictate which level of the minor leagues he begins the season. 

Then again, the organization could simply believe that regardless of his performance, it will keep him on its timetable and have him begin the season with Double-A Tennessee, then go from there.

If that is the case, Baez could still see a late season call-up just as Jurickson Profar received from the Rangers in 2012, but the Cubs do not seem to be sending out that sort of message.  The odds of Baez receiving a call-up directly from Double-A—a la Starlin Castro—do not appear to be as high if he were to begin the season in Triple-A.

Though it is probable he begins the season at Double-A, if he continues to run roughshod over the competition, a quick promotion to Triple-A would be in the cards; setting 2014 as the year he makes his MLB debut.

But if Javier Baez has proved anything this spring, it is that he is already ready for Triple-A.

There is feasibility to optioning Javier Baez directly to Triple-A Iowa after spring training instead of Tennessee or back to High-A Daytona.  And if Baez can continue his red-hot start to the year, not only will Iowa become the world’s largest bowl of popcorn, but the Cubs and their fans could see their most promising prospect in years make his big league debut in 2013.

Either way, Javier Baez will be on the Cubs’ 2014 Opening Day roster.  Mark it down.

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