For Cubs fans, it seems there's always something to smile about waiting to be found in the Triple-A box scores, even when Iowa gets swept in a doubleheader.
On Saturday, it was Javier Baez who brought happiness to an otherwise unhappy day.
The organization's top prospect went deep in the first inning of a 5-4 loss to Memphis before leaving the yard again in the opening frame of a 6-4 defeat at the hands of the visiting Redbirds.
Rated by MLB.com as the No. 6 prospect in baseball, Baez was making his eighth and ninth starts at second base. In the opener, he belted a three-run homer to left-center off southpaw Tim Cooney for his 18th roundtripper of the season. He recorded No. 19 early in the nightcap, depositing a pitch from right-hander Boone Whiting over the left-field fence for another three-run blast.
The 2011 first-round pick (ninth overall) finished 3-for-7 with two homers and a double. He totaled six RBIs while fanning three times and drawing a walk.
A shortstop in an organization with capable ones from Addison Russell at Double-A Tennessee to three-time All-Star Starlin Castro in the Major Leagues, Baez debuted at second base on July 17 and has played nine of 11 games there. In 34 at-bats at his new position, the 21-year-old is batting .382/.436/.941 with five homers, four doubles and 17 RBIs.
Each month has been better than the last for the Puerto Rico native, whose numbers for the season include a .259/.320/.499 slash line with 24 doubles, two triples, 19 homers and 73 RBIs. He's hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games while homering in three of the last four.
After struggling to the tune of a .172 average in April, he batted .250 in May and .275 in June before hitting at a .310 clip through 23 July games.
Cooney (10-5) got the win in the opener after allowing four runs -- three earned -- on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. Eric Fornataro worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames for his ninth save. Iowa starter Dan Straily (4-6) gave up five runs -- three on homers by Shane Robinson and Xavier Scruggs -- on seven hits across five innings.
In the nightcap, Whiting (4-6) struck out nine and yielded four runs on six hits in five innings, with Josh Vitters taking him deep along with Baez. Jorge Rondon pitched a perfect seventh to earn his fourth save. Cubs starter Yoanner Negrin (0-3) allowed five runs -- two earned -- on six his in five frames.