The second baseman for the World Champion Chicago Cubs, Javier Baez, has formally committed to playing for Team Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He joins Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina as the only two major leaguers currently committed to the team.
Baez was born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, just like Team PR teammate Yadier Molina, and grew up there until he moved to Florida as a 12-year-old. Now 24-years-old, Javier is looking forward to representing the country where his family is from. Javier and his two brothers, Gadiel and Rolando, grew to love the sport of baseball while living in Puerto Rico through their father, Angel Luis, before his death when Javier was ten. In 2005, Javier and his mother, three brothers, and sister moved to the United States so his sister, Noely, could get treatment for her spina bifida condition. This gave Baez and his brothers a chance to live their dream as professional ball players.
Javier was selected in the first round, ninth pick, in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. He worked his way through the ranks, collecting various accolades along the way, before making his Major League debut on August 5th, 2014. Over the past three seasons, he has played in 222 games, 142 of which came in this past season. He has slashed .244/.289/.392, collecting 24 homers and 83 RBI along the way. Baez has shown signs of potential superstardom, but his lack of plate discipline and high strikeout numbers have slowed his chance at breaking out.
While his performance in the World Series was a forgettable one, not that he minds much considering the result, Javier played a huge role in the Cubs’ playoff run. In the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, Baez slashed .375/.412/.563 with a homer and two RBI. The lone homer came in the 8th inning of Game 1 and accounted for the only run in the 1-0 victory. He continued his hot postseason into the NLCS, where he hit .318 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and collected an astounding five RBI. He started off the series with a steal of home in the second inning of Game 1 and helped the Cubs get one step closer with a three hit, three RBI performance in Game 5. Baez was named NLCS co-MVP along with Jon Lester.
Javier Baez helped the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years, and he hopes to continue his good fortune into the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He hopes that longtime friend, Cleveland Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor, will join him on Team Puerto Rico in the Classic. Puerto Rico was placed in Pool D, where they fill face off against Venezuela, Italy, and Mexico when play begins on March 9th.