Two days after top prospect third baseman Kris Bryant homered in his first Cactus league plate appearance, fellow top prospect Javier Baez had an impressive showing in the Cubs Cactus League game on Sunday.
In the Cubs 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, Baez went 2-for-3 with a double for the Cubs offense.
Like Bryant, Baez is not expected to break camp with the Major League team. However, the expectation is for Baez to start with the Cubs triple-A affiliate in Iowa. Though, there is a quiet consensus that Baez could potentially play his way onto the Cubs roster to begin the season.
But considering the Cubs have taken a cautious approach with their top prospects till this point, it stands to reason that the team will not deviate from the plan.
The Cubs may have seen a glimpse of the future on Sunday as Baez was playing at the shortstop position.
There is a reason why Baez had three plate appearances on Sunday. Starlin Castro started the game at the shortstop position but left in the first inning after suffering a hamstring strain after attempting to steal a base.
Castro indicated that the hamstring strain was not as severe as the one he suffered last Spring.
“It’s not too bad like last year,” Castro said. “It (hurts) just a little bit. It’s early right now. I’ll take a couple days and be back again.” -Starlin Castro, ESPN Chicago
With Castro listed as day-to-day, Baez may get an extended look at the shortstop position.
Second baseman Darwin Barney is being pushed this Spring by utility man Emilio Bonifacio. Barney would appear to have the upper-hand over Bonifacio, though, is considered to be the inferior offensive player. That being said, Barney has been showing some improvement this Spring. Barney hit a home run last week for the Cubs and on Sunday, the second baseman went 1-for-3 with a double.
If Barney can be a productive offensive player for the Cubs in 2014, then it’ll be that much easier for the Cubs front office to trade the second baseman before the July 31 trade deadline. A move that may lead to a middle infield combination of Baez and Castro.