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2011 MLB Draft Prospects: Javier Baez Represents Safe, Toolsy Pick In Late First Round

The Atlanta Braves hold the No. 28 pick in the 2011 MLB Draft held on June 6. While they could go in several different directions this late in the round, the overall consensus based on past picks is Atlanta may go the toolsy outfielder/middle infielder route. A draft prospect that fits the description is Javier Baez.

Baez is a middle infielder from Arlington Country Day High School in Jacksonville, Fla. He is listed by many as a shortstop/third baseman, but he will likely profile as a second baseman as his arm may not be strong enough for the left side. He is listed at 6'1, 205 with a modest frame, and it sounds like he has room to grow, but his swing doesn't project for power.

Looking at his swing, he has some serious timing mechanisms and hitches in there. The load wraps just before he swings, and he has a major leg kick at the same time, so adjustments will have to be made for professional pitching. Despite these things, he doesn't project for power due to a level swing and average size, likely sticking to the gaps and spraying the ball.

Baez's defense will likely put him at second base due to an average arm, but he has good hands and motions, and it will probably be his strength as a pro. None of his tools project as plus, but they should be good enough to progress through the lower levels right now. John Sickels has Baez going to the Blue Jays at 21st, but he could fall as far as the Braves due to the nature of some teams choosing risk over safety in the first round.

Atlanta doesn't mind choosing safety, and they have shown a tendency to go for the toolsy infielder. Whether they do it two years in a row remains in question, however.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.