Baez starts Double-A with a bang

Cubs' top prospect homers in first at-bat for Tennessee

Javier Baez hit 17 homers at Daytona before his promotion. (Matthew Shalbrack/Tennessee Smokies)

By Robert Emrich / | July 6, 2013 6:38 PM ET

Javier Baez wasted little time in making a first impression on his new teammates.

The Cubs' top prospect homered in his first Double-A at-bat Saturday night before the Tennessee Smokies fell to the visiting Huntsville Stars, 8-2.

Four pitches into his first Southern League plate appearance, Baez drilled a 2-1 offering from Brewers No. 2 prospect Taylor Jungmann over the center-field fence for a solo blast.

"It was very exciting to homer in the first at-bat," Baez said. "I was just trying to make some contact and I hit the ball good."

The 20-year-old shortstop struck out in the third inning, flied to left to end the fifth and grounded to third in the eighth. He also started one of the Smokies' two double plays.

Baez spent the first three months of the season terrorizing Florida State League pitching. He batted .274 and shared the league lead with 17 homers while driving in 57 runs for Class A Advanced Daytona. On June 10, he recorded the second four-homer game in the FSL's 94-year-history.

That historic was part of a torrid month for the native of Puerto Rico, who posted a 1.068 OPS in 24 games. Despite the strong numbers, Baez was a little surprised by the promotion.

"I was ready to stay in Daytona the whole year," he said. "I just smiled and said thanks for everything to all the coaches and started packing my stuff."

The Cubs felt the play of's No. 14 overall prospect warranted the jump.

"He's obviously had a monster month at the plate," Cubs executive vice president and general manager Jed Hoyer told "He's played better defense. He's been a good teammate. It's time for a new challenge for Javy, and I think he'll respond well to it. It's the right time for us to do it."

Selected ninth overall in the 2011 Draft, Baez has a simple recipe for success.

"Just try to get my pitches and try to make all the throws, all the plays I made," Baez said.

Cubs No. 8 prospect Christian Villanueva homered for the fifth time in 10 games, but that was the extent of the offense for the Smokies.

Jungmann (9-6) notched his league-leading ninth win after giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out seven over 6 2/3 innings.

Brewers No. 19 prospect Kentrail Davis went 3-for-6 with two runs scored and Adam Weisenburger drove in two runs for Huntsville.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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