After dominating Double-A hitting in 2013, expectations were extremely high for Javier Baez coming into 2014. However, by the middle of May some were wondering if the Chicago Cubs had been too aggressive in sending the right-handed-hitting infielder to Triple-A Iowa. At that time Baez was hitting just .142/.229/.255, and more than one scout told me it was looking like this was going to be a lost season.
What a difference a Manny Ramirez makes (as a minor league coach, at least).
Since that point, Baez has been among the best hitting shortstops in minor league baseball and has batted .294/.351/.580 with 17 homers and 13 stolen bases. That improvement hasn't gone unnoticed, as the Cubs decided to promote the 2011 first-round selection, which is somewhat surprising since the Cubs will have to add him to the 40-man roster.
Is Baez a clear-cut fantasy pickup at this point? Absolutely. In fact, he has the ability to be among the best young middle infielders in all of baseball for the final 50 games of the season. Here's a look at why Baez projects so high and also why fantasy owners should have realistic expectations over the final stretch of the season.