Each Friday, Ultimate Autographs will profile an athlete that is featured in our collection. This week, we're looking at Chicago Cubs and MLB superstar Javier Baez.
Javier Baez was born and raised in Puerto Rico but moved to Florida in 2005 with his family. Javier Baez attended Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, FL. Initially, Javier Baez was not on the radar for baseball scouts as they did not believe he'd be able to put everything together on the baseball field. However, Javier Baez did his best to showcase his talent during his high school career, eventually becoming an Aflac All-American.
Although Javier Baez committed to play baseball at Jacksonville University, the Chicago Cubs selected him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. Prior to the 2012 MLB season, MLB.com rated Javier Baez as the No. 62 overall prospect in baseball. A year later, Javier Baez had moved up to No. 16 overall on the same list.
Javier Baez continued to rise through the ranks of the Chicago Cubs minor league system, drawing rave reviews for his superstar potential. Eventually, the Chicago Cubs called Javier Baez up to the majors in 2014. He made a grand debut by hitting his first career home run, a game-winner in the 12th inning against the Colorado Rockies. He would show flashes of realizing his potential but after struggling with strikeouts, Javier Baez would be sent back down to the minors the following year.
In 2016, Javier Baez earned an every-day role with the Chicago Cubs, helping lead the team to their first World Series in 108 years. He and teammate Jon Lester were named NLCS co-MVPs and Javier Baez proved to be a key piece in the Chicago Cubs winning the 2016 World Series.
As Javier Baez continued to improve his offensive game, he began to gain recognition for his defensive skills as well. There have been countless highlights of runners attempting to steal a base being tagged out following a quick tag from Javier Baez. For his defensive skills and ability to avoid tags by opposing players, Javier Baez earned the moniker "El Mago" (The Magician). His no-look tag in the World Baseball Classic was a particularly memorable moment for the young superstar.
2018 proved to be Javier Baez' best season to date. He would bat .290, hit 34 home runs and had 111 RBIs. Javier Baez was a perennial MVP candidate, eventually finishing second to Christian Yellich.
In just 6 years, Javier Baez has already proven to be among the best players in baseball today. His blend of offensive firepower combined with stellar defense put him into the elite category of current MLB players.