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Cubs' Baez cut, headed for Triple-A Iowa03/22/2014 3:40 PM ET
By Jake Seiner / MiLB.com
The big swinging Puerto Rican managed to drum up plenty of speculation, but in the end, the Chicago Cubs have kept their word on shortstop Javier Baez.
MLB.com's No. 7 prospect was cut by the big league club Saturday and assigned to Minor League camp, as were infielder Chris Valaika, outfielder Casper Wells and pitchers Brian Schlitter, Jonathan Sanchez and Chang-Yong Lim. Pitcher Blake Parker was optioned to Triple-A Iowa as well.
The Cubs announced prior to Spring Training that Baez -- who bopped 37 homers between Class A Advanced and Double-A in 2013 -- would begin the season with Iowa, regardless of his Spring Training performance.
The Cubs made good on that promise despite a standout performance from the 21-year-old, who hit .310 with five homers and a 1.048 OPS in 14 Cactus League games.
"It was better than last year," Baez told MLB.com. "Hopefully, next year I'll be here and stay here."
The news came a day after Baez exited a Cactus League game with a right heel contusion after stepping awkwardly on first base legging out an infield single. The injury was not thought to be serious.
The ninth overall pick from the 2011 Draft impressed the Cubs with the strides he made defensively in 2013, but with Starlin Castro entrenched at short for the foreseeable future, speculation has grown that Baez could end up at second or third base in the near future.
That buzz was fueled when Baez made a few appearances this week at second base. Nothing on that front appears imminent, though, and Iowa fans should expect to see Baez playing primarily at short, at least to start the 2014 season.
"We're sending him down to play shortstop, and that's what we told him," Cubs manager Rick Renteria told reporters.
In addition to his nearly successful pursuit of 40 home runs in 2013, Baez also batted .282 with 34 doubles, 20 steals, a .341 on-base percentage and a .920 OPS with Daytona and Tennessee.
Asked if he was disappointed by the demotion, Baez told MLB.com, "Not really. There are a lot of people here, veteran guys, so I understand."