Top 12 Jays Draft Targets, JJ Edition: #8 Javier Baez

This message will continue to be posted on each of the top 12 draft targets I will be listing daily until draft day: the players listed are not “the best” players in the draft, they are simply those that I believe could be around when the Jays draft, and that could wind up being selected by the Blue Birds when their turns come up. The list has 12 of the top targets and will be presented in reverse order (from least likely, to most likely).

#8: Javier Baez (18)

Short Stop / 6’1″ 185 lbs / Puerto Rico

Born: December 1st 1992

High School Team: Arlington Country Day School, Jacksonville

College: NA. Signed with Jacksonville University.

Quick Facts:

  • Baseball Beginnings are not the biggest fans of Baez, calling him a “sound” pick.
  • Rawlings 1st Team Pre-season All-American and 1st Team Florida All-Region in 2011.
  • 2010 AFLAC All-American.
  • Has experience at 3B and most believe he could settle in at SS or 3B. But, he also played catcher at the East Coast Professional Showcase, apparently holding his own in the process. That has a lot of people wondering if a team may be intrigued enough to give him a shot at the position.
  • Played with Francisco Lindor in Puerto Rico.

Stats:

  • 2010: .463 AVG / 82 AB / 38 hits / 9 DB / 13 HR / 42 RBI / 8 BB / 5 SO / 9 SB / .516 OBP / 1.049 SLG / .989 Fld%

Interviews/Videos:

  • Here is a video of Javier Baez in action:

Pre-Draft Rankings (out of all hitters in brackets):

  • BA Ranking May 16th: #18 (7)
  • John Sickels May 9th: #21 (9)

The draft position of Baez in this year’s draft is about as hard to predict as any. He could go within the top 10, and he could as late as in the sandwich round. It all depends on how teams read his ceiling to be. There are some who say he’s a future star in the making, while others say that his ceiling is quite limited and that he lacks any kind of above-average power or speed to make him worthy of a 1st rd pick (or of 1st rd pick money). This is one of the reasons I have him placed at #8 on this list. He could go to the Jays at #21, or he could go to the Jays at #35. John Sickels seems to believe that the Jays will nab him at #21, and I tend to believe he could be right if Baez is available that late.

He is a fluid defender who has impressed scouts in all defensive areas, something that is often overlooked when people speak about his skills. He’s a smart player who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t shy about being outgoing and vocal. His High School Coach is his legal guardian as for various reasons, something I wouldn’t elaborate on without direct knowledge of the situation but that is encouraging in terms of his having good support despite some family issues. Some compare his personality and grit to Brett Lawrie, so it can’t be a bad thing….right?

Offensively speaking, he has lots of room for growth but already impresses in most areas. He has some loft in his swing, a very quick bat, but may lack an abundance of power. To me, that’s a non-issue because there are very few teams out there that expect anything more than 15-20 HRs from their middle-infielders, and Baez should be able to do that if he makes good on his potential. His speed is average and should be good enough for 10-20 SB annually. Combine those 2 things with great D and a high average and OBP, and you’ve got a great package.

So why would he be available at #21? Questions about his personal issues, immature actions at times, and his flair could scare away a few teams. There are also some who believe that his ceiling is lower than I listed above, which leads them to see him more worthy of a sandwich level pick. After all, if you’re going to spend your 1st rd pick in an extremely talented pitching year on a SS, you better be positive that he’s going to work out. Is Baez a guaranteed star? No. But teams could do much worse.

The teams I could see taking a shot with him are those who have sandwich picks that would allow them to grab some pitching thereafter. That makes Baez their “risky” pick. Therefore, the Rays (24), Twins (30), Padres (25), and Mets (13) are teams that I can envision grabbing his late in the 1st rd if he slides to them.  Having said that, I also believe that both of the LA teams, the Dodgers at 16 or the Angels at 17, could take a shot on him.

Expected Selection (if selected by the Jays): I’m split here with either 1st rd, 21st overall or 35th overall if he slides that far back due to concerns about makeup and ceiling.

He’s a very intriguing prospect to consider for the Jays. While some compare his personality to Lawrie, I believe that most place his skills on the field at the Yunel Escobar level. Does that make him 1st rd worthy? Remember that it has taken Escobar until age 28 to finally put all of his skills together on par with where they should be. At only 18 year old, will it take Baez as long to make good on his potential? Will a team be willing to wait that long? I know that there are some HUGE Baez fans out there and they have good reason to be fans of his, but I still lean towards his sliding slightly in the draft due to big questions about him overall. If he develops as his fans expects and becomes a Jays player, he’ll be a great addition to the franchise and should get ample time to develop his skills behind the many 2010 Jays infield picks.

That brings me to my last point: with the Jays having picked so many infielders in 2010, most notably Dickie Thon who they spent $1.5 million on to sign, it’s more probable that the Jays will yet again target an arm in this draft, so I personally really only expect the Jays to jump on him at #35 if he’s still around. They could surprise me and grab him at #21, but my hunch is an arm at #21.

- MG

Read the others on the Top 12 list here:

2011 Top 12 Draft Targets, JJ Edition

  • 12 - Jorge Lopez, Academia de Milagrosa, Cayey, P.R. JJ Analysis here.
  • 11 - Jackie Bradley Jr, South Carolina. JJ Analysis here.
  • 10 - Jose Fernandez, Alonso HS. JJ Analysis here.
  • 9 – Tyler Anderson, Oregon. JJ Analysis here.

 

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