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Cubs tab high school shortstop with ninth pick

Cubs tab high school shortstop with ninth pick

Cubs tab high school shortstop with ninth pick
CHICAGO -- Sometimes talent is too difficult to ignore.

The Cubs saw enough potential in Javier Baez to draft a high school athlete over a more developed college player with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft on Monday.

Baez, an 18-year-old shortstop from Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla., was the fourth position player and second shortstop taken in the Draft.

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The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Baez throws and bats right-handed. He hit .771 (64-for-83), with 22 home runs, 20 doubles and six triples in his senior year. He stole 28 bases, walked 32 times and struck out three times in leading his school to the National Association of Christian Athletics championship.

Baez's high school coach has compared him to Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner. Baez was recommended by Cubs area scout Tom Clark. The numbers and reviews led Chicago to select Baez in place of a more experienced player.

"We went over a number of [college players], and we did talk about that, but we thought [Baez's potential] far outweighed what was available to us at No. 9," said Tim Wilken, the Cubs' director of amateur and professional scouting. "We were strong on Javier's ability versus what was there pitching-wise, and I feel very comfortable with the pick."

Baez's scouting report says he is a line-drive hitter who should develop above-average power in the future, though he currently lacks plate discipline. Baez likely could be moved from shortstop to third base, because he doesn't have exceptional range. Wilken said Baez will have a chance to be a middle-of-the-order hitter.

"I think he projects anywhere where his bat's going to take him," Wilken said. "He can play short. We'll just let that take care of himself. We're going to find out from him -- he's going to tell us on the field. I have seen him play third. Our scouts have seen him play third. We've even seen him catch."

Wilken said Baez has varying approaches at the plate.

"He's got two different swings," Wilken said. "He really lets it out at times, and then he's got a good two-strike approach."

Wilken and other Cubs scouts were impressed when they met with Baez last week in Sebring, Fla.

"He's a very quiet young man off the field, very fiery on the field," Wilken said. "He's more of a student-type young man. He's confident, but it's silent confidence. He doesn't mince his words. You're going to get straight answers. There's not going to be a lot of verbiage in between."

The past three years, the Cubs selected college players with their first pick after drafting third baseman Josh Vitters out of high school in 2007. The last time the club selected a shortstop with its first pick was in '00, when it drafted Lou Montanez, who was converted to an outfielder and is currently on the club's Major League roster.

Baez's older brother, Rolando Agosto, was selected by the Padres in the 15th round of the 2002 draft.

Baez, originally from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, is committed to Jacksonville University.

Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at 11 a.m. CT on Tuesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.

Alex Ruppenthal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }
{"content":["first-year_player_draft" ] }