Javier Baez's time appears to be near.
MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reported Monday that the Chicago Cubs' top prospect is slated to begin 2014 with Triple-A Iowa. She also indicated Baez will have the chance to play his way into a Major League job in short order.
The 21-year-old native of Puerto Rico split 2013 between Class A Advanced Daytona and Double-A Tennessee, bashing 37 home runs while posting a .282 average and a .920 OPS. The 6-foot, 195-pound infielder impressed his coaches with adjustments he made at the plate to sharpen his approach, taking advantage of his tremendous bat speed.
Baez will head to Major League Spring Training for the second time next month. Last year, he hit .298 with four home runs in 17 Cactus League games, and also belted two more home runs in an exhibition contest against Team Japan, including a two-run walk-off shot.
"I learned everything," Baez told MLB.com about his 2013 Spring Training experience. "I was looking around to see what I could get from the other guys, the big leaguers. That's my goal, to get where they are.
"I'm a real quiet person on the field, but I'm always looking around and picking up stuff from everybody. … I'll feel comfortable once I get there [in February] because I've been there already. I'll continue to learn from everybody, from the new guys who come in to the veterans. I learn from everyone."
The shortstop was slated to play in the Arizona Fall League, but was scratched from Chicago's list of participants due to fatigue at season's end. Muskat reported Baez has been working out with one of his brothers in Florida and also spent time preparing for the season in Miami with fellow Cubs prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
Baez was recognized for his talents by MLB.com's prospect staff Monday. He was named the No. 2 shortstop prospect in baseball, slotting behind Boston's Xander Bogaerts and just ahead of Houston's Carlos Correa.
Selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2011 Draft, Baez will be one of several prospects partaking in the Cubs Convention at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers this coming weekend, joining fellow prospects Almora, Kris Bryant and C.J. Edwards.