Javier Baez has been playing ball for Santurce in the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League in Puerto Rico. And one of the goals for the young slugger and slick infielder was to spend time in center field learning how to play the position.
Baez played four games in center in the 15 games he participated in during the regular season. In the three playoff games he’s participated in, Baez has lined up at second base. Baez has played a total of 18 games for Santurce and 10 of those have been at second base, four at shortstop and the other four were in center field.
Peter Gammons received good information about how Baez looked in the four games in center field. Gammons tweeted Wednesday, “Am told when Javier Baez has played center field, he’s been good, instinctive and threw Caguas runner out at the plate.”
It is easy to read a box score and recap and notice he has not been charged with any errors. To see a positive report on Baez’s defense in the outfield from a Hall of Famer carries weight.
From Dec. 19 – Baez saw a lot of action in the field. Baez was not charged with any errors and caught three of the 10 balls hit into center field in nine innings, the other seven went for singles according to the recap.
The second game in center came on Dec. 23, this was the game he threw out a runner at second base.
From Dec. 25 – Baez had five balls hit his way Wednesday. Baez forced a runner at second in the second inning on a ball hit to center. Baez caught fly balls in the fourth, eighth and ninth innings.
Baez was rather busy in the third game in center field on Dec. 27. Baez had nine balls hit his way.
From Dec. 29 – Nine balls were hit his way. Baez caught a ball in the second inning that was a sacrifice fly and plated a run. He recorded all three outs in the fifth inning on fly balls hit to center. Baez also caught balls in the seventh and eighth innings that went for outs.
And his fourth game in center came on Dec. 29, it was the first time Baez started and played in back-to-back games in center field this winter.
From Dec. 30 – Baez had five balls hit his way according to the game recap. Baez caught fly balls in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings. And he snagged the final out of the game in center.
Adding another defensive position to his resume will make Javier Baez even more valuable to the Cubs. Baez already provides very good defense at second, short and third base. Baez lined up once at first base last season and could just end up being Joe Maddon’s second Ben Zobrist, without the whole switch-hitting thing and with a lot more power.