Ednel Javier Baez, otherwise known as “Javy”, was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico in December of 1992. His father, Angel Luis Baez, passed away when Javy was only 10 years old, but he certainly left his mark before his early death. Javy’s father was the primary influence behind Javy’s love for baseball as he spurred his sons’ interest at a young age. Javy and his two brothers, Gadiel and Rolando, knew they were destined for baseball greatness as they each got tattoos of the Major League Baseball Logo sometime in their adolescent years. While this may seem like a downright cocky move, it doesn’t matter because they were obviously right. Javy’s brother Rolando was the first from the family to enter the big leagues; he was drafted by the San Diego padres in 2002.
Javy’s high school career was nothing short of incredible. He moved to Florida in 2005 with his mother, brothers, and sister. Javy, 13 at the time, enrolled in Arlington Country Day School to begin his high school education. These times were certainly tough for Javy because he not only had to adjust to the American culture, but also overcome the language barrier. Javy grew up speaking Spanish, and had to teach himself English on a trial and error basis. This is no easy task for a middle schooler. Javy exploded into the baseball limelight during his high school career (batting .463 as a sophomore, and an incredible .771 in his senior season), but nonetheless, local scouts doubted that he was destined for stardom in the big leagues. Javy’s versatility and work ethic are what truly made him stand out to Major League scouts as he played second base, short stop, center field, and catcher during his high school career.
Javy must have been doing something right, though, because he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the first round (9th pick overall) of the 2011 MLB draft. If you struggle with math, Javy was drafted right out of high school at the tender age of 18. Javy had finally made it to the big leagues, but never emerged as the everyday starter he knew he could be. Prior to the 2012 season Javy was rated as the 62d best prospect in baseball, and after a successful campaign, was upgraded to the 16th best prospect before his 2013 season. His power, speed, and defense made him a tantalizing prospect as he rose in the ranks of MLB talent evaluators. Javy won the Minor League Baseball Award for Best Minor League Game of the Year when he hit an unbelievable four home runs in October of 2013.
On August 5th, 2014 the Cubs finally gave Baez the chance to showcase his talent at the Major League level. In his debut game against the Colorado Rockies he hit a game winning home run in the 12th inning. Javy’s clutch gene was on full display, as it has been in the 2016 playoffs. The Cubs coaching staff still doubted Javy’s approach at the plate as he struck out 95 times in his rookie season, batting only .169 to boot. The Cubs sent Baez down to the minors in March of 2015 where he remained until September of that year. Overcoming challenges has been a theme in Javy’s life since a young age. He has an immense amount of confidence in himself and this showed as he refined his approach at the plate, lowering his strike out rate significantly.
Javy has been on the Cubs’ roster for the duration of the 2016 season. While he has not been an everyday starter, his contribution to the team has certainly been noticed. He batted .273 during the 2016 season, scoring 50 runs, hitting 14 HRs, batting in 59 RBIs, and stealing 12 bases. His improvement had obviously been noticed by Cubs’ manager, Joe Maddon, as he has continually used the budding star in crucial game situations. Javy has absolutely exploded in the 2016 playoffs. He has started in every one of the Cubs games and has been by and far the Cubs most valuable player. His go ahead HR in the 8th inning of game 1 of the NLDS series against the Giants was truly one that will be remembered by Cub and baseball fans alike. His fielding has been among the best in the majors; from diving stops, to exceptional tags, he has been nothing short of brilliant.
The Cubs will need the young stud to continue his postseason success if they want to comeback from a 2-1 series deficit against the formidable Dodgers. It seems that Javy’s confidence is contagious. Hopefully he can motivate his slumping counterparts in the infield (Rizzo and Russell, NOT Bryant) to mimic his postseason success at the plate. Javy Baez has cemented himself as an everyday MLB starter and will hopefully find himself in the Cubs middle infield for years to come.
His 2016 Defensive Highlights video is an astonishing 8 minutes long! Even salty White Sox fans have to give Javy props because his talent is just undeniable.