Javier is very athletic and muscular.
Baez grew up in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He idolized Alex Rodriguez.
In 2005, his family moved to the U.S. because his sister, who is one year younger, has special needs, and they wanted better medical treatment. "I wanted to stay in Puerto Rico," Baez said. "I knew it would be different over here. But baseball is the same."
Javier's sister Noely Baez has spina bifida, the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States.
During his high school years, he lived with his high school coach, who is also his legal guardian, though his mother is still in the picture. In 2011, Baez hit .771 (64-for-83) with 22 home runs and stole 28 bases as a high school senior at Arlington Day School in Jacksonville, Florida.
Baez had an explosive demeanor. He plays with energy, but it's not always positive, and he turns off some scouts with emotional outbursts and an off-field demeanor some describe as aloof. But, like most 17-year-olds, Javier matured.
His makeup is no longer questionable. The Cubs saw a ton of talent and some raised questions about his makeup. He plays with a lot of flair and swagger and convinced the Cubs that he takes the game seriously and will be a solid teammate. So, the Cubs chose Baez as their first round selection in the 2011 draft, the 9th overall choice.
"He's a very quiet young man off the field, and very fiery on the field,'' Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said. "He's more of an astute type young man. He's confident but it's a silent confidence. He's got very good makeup off the field.'' (2013)
Baez is overly and emotional at times, he'll need time to mature on and off the field. (Spring 2012)
Manager named Javier as 2012's most exciting player in the Midwest League, where he also rated as the No. 1 prospect, and one scout said watching Baez take batting practice was the highlight of his summer.
In the spring of 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Baez as the second best prospect in Cubs' organization, behind only CF Brett Jackson. Then, in the springs of both 2013 and 2014, they had Javier as the #1 prospect in the Cub farm system.
In 2013, Baez was named the Cubs organization's Minor League Player of the Year after he led the entire Minor Leagues in extra-base hits (75) and RBIs (111).
How certain is Baez that he'll reach the big leagues? The first tattoo he got was the MLB logo on the back of his neck. His two brothers, Rolando and Gadiel, have the same tattoo.
April 2014: After being ejected from a game for losing his temper against a Pacific Coast League umpire, it escalated into a dugout altercation with veteran teammate Eli Whiteside.
And whether it had more to do with a 21-year-old’s 0-for-9 frustrations to start the season, it might have offered a brief glimpse into the kind of pressure the Cubs’ top prospects face during a long rebuilding process .
“It’s all part of development,” president Theo Epstein said. “Players are in the minor leagues to develop physically and fundamentally, and also mentally and emotionally.
"It's an instance that could wind up being a great thing in the long run for Javy’s development,” Epstein said. “It was not a huge deal but something he can grow from . . . and he will.”
August 5, 2014: Playing his first Major League game, Baez launched the first pitch he saw from Boone Logan leading off the 12th inning into the bullpen for his first big league homer. The Cubs won 6-5 over the Rockies. He became the first player to hit a go ahead homer in extra innings in their Major League debut.
- September 26, 2014: "It's gone very much as expected," Cubs president Theo Epstein said of Baez's first two months in the big leagues.
Since his promotion to the big Leagues, he has had a tough time at the plate. The good news for the Cubs is that Baez hasn't carried those struggles onto the field.
"He's played incredible shortstop," Epstein said. "Beyond the tools that he has and the plays that he's made, he's shown a great baseball head on his shoulders and really good instincts, really good focus. He's won the respect of a lot of veterans here with the way he plays the game on the field. That's big, and not to be taken for granted from a 21-year-old.
"Offensively, it's gone as expected," Epstein said. "Javy's extraordinarily talented but very raw offensively. He hasn't quite learned a consistent approach and swings at the pitches he wants to swing at, and he's letting the pitcher dictate the course of the at-bat by not being selective enough. When you do that in the big leagues, it can get ugly in a hurry." (Carrie Muskat - MLB.com - 9/27/2014)
- Baez not only has impressive bat speed, but can play solid defense, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The thing nobody talks about is this guy is a really good baseball player," Maddon said. "His defense is spectacular, baserunning is outstanding. His acumen on the field is well beyond his years. The thing that's lagging is the adjustment at the plate. Of course, he needs to get better, of course he needs to make adjustments.
"I do know I like him as a baseball player, and he could be a very good Major League Baseball player once he figures out the command of his swing."
"He has things he has to learn how to do yet," Maddon said of Baez. "He shows signs of brilliance at times. To this point in the spring of 2015, he's had a lot of good at-bats and hit some balls hard. Then he'll show the out-of-control swing that bothers him a little bit, and I think it bothers the fans more than it bothers me.
"It's a young guy trying to figure this all out. [He has] sterling bat speed, incredible bat speed. He just needs plate appearances." Baez not only has impressive bat speed, but can play solid defense, Maddon said. (Muskat - mlb.com - 3/19/15)
Javier's sister, Noely, passed away on April 8, 2015, and he took an indefinite leave of absence from the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa team. Noely was 21.
Noely was born with spina bifida, a disabling birth defect which happens when the spinal column does not close all the way. The Baez family had moved from Puerto Rico to Jacksonville, Fla., so Noely could get better care. Javier was involved in a fundraiser for spina bifida in Jacksonville to raise awareness.
"We don't see her as someone who is different from us," Baez said in an interview in December 2013. "She's a miracle for us. She's a miracle in our lives." (Muskat - mlb.com - 4/9/15)
December 2016: Baez committed to play for Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Feb 24, 2017: Javier Baez will never forget his first World Series championship, and he has a new tattoo on his left shoulder to commemorate it. The tattoo features the trophy, the year, the Major League Baseball logo, and "World Series Champions" plus part of the Cubs' logo. It's just the start of what Baez has planned for his left arm.
"When my whole arm is finished, it's going to make more sense," he said. "It looks really nice but it's there, alone. I've got another thing [planned] for my arm."
The tattoos to come will feature his family, Baez said.He has the image of his late sister, Noely, on his right shoulder, and that arm is completely covered. What if the Cubs win another championship? "I still have my legs and my back," he said.
Baez also had some new wheels at spring camp, although he didn't drive the vehicle Friday because of the chilly morning. He was renting a white Polaris Slingshot, which is a three-wheel motorcycle with car-like seating.
"They told me that while I'm here [in Arizona], I can use it," Baez said. "It's a fun little car, and I'm just having fun."
However, he drove his barber's car Friday and gave the Slingshot to his barber because Baez said he knew it would be cold Friday morning. The car doesn't have a top or a heater. (C Muskat - MLB.com - Feb 25, 2017)
After the 2016 World Series, some of the Cubs players were honored with parades in their hometowns, some appeared on talk shows and some decided to go "Dancing with the Stars." Cubs infielder Javier Baez had a street named after him in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood.
Baez, who was the co-Most Valuable Player in the 2016 National League Championship Series with teammate Jon Lester, and his mother joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 26th Ward Alderman Roberto Maldonado at the ceremony. Baez also brought along the World Series trophy, which fans posed for photos with.
"When I was growing up in the city of Chicago, it was that you always wanted to grow up and be like Mike," Emanuel said, referring to NBA star Michael Jordan. "In the city of Chicago, people now are growing up and kids are saying they want to be like Javy."
Maldonado explained Baez's story, and how Baez had promised his father, who he lost when he was 11, that he would provide for his family. Baez also vowed to his sister, Noely, that he would take care of her. She died in 2015 at the age of 21. "It is more than just the game of baseball," Maldonado said. "For Javy, it is the spirit of his beloved father and sister that gave life to the game and helped him achieve greatness. Javy is such an inspiration to so many young people who have faced tragic times and had to deal with losses."
Maldonado said he wanted to celebrate Baez's achievements, both personally and professionally, by naming the street after the popular Cubs player. "Javier 'Javy' Baez Way" now stretches along West Luis Munoz Marin Drive from Sacramento Avenue to Division Street along Little Cubs Field in Humboldt Park, which has a large Puerto Rican population.
Humboldt Park has 15 different softball and baseball fields, and more than 45 years ago, the Puerto Rican community created a baseball league in which all the teams are named for towns on the island. In his resolution honoring Baez, Maldonado said the young infielder has "given Chicagoans [and] Cubs fans across the world and all of Puerto Rico great reasons to celebrate." (Muskat - mlb.com - 4/11/17)
Cubs second baseman Javier Baez bares all (or most), posing in the buff for ESPN The Magazine's annual "Body Issue" and sharing the highs and lows of personal loss and professional acclaim.
"I'm a strong person, mentally speaking. I have learned to be that way; I've learned to be strong. My father and my great-grandmother died within the very same week," Baez told ESPN's Marly Rivera in the issue that launches online July 5 and hits newsstands July 7.
Also, his sister, Noely, died two years ago at 21 after suffering from spina bifida.Obviously, last season brought happier times as Baez and the Cubs won the World Series, but he said he keeps himself from getting too high or too low.
"Because of all the things I've gone through, I am not that emotional," he said. "I never show how happy I am. For example, when we won the World Series, my girlfriend said to me, 'Aren't you excited?' I keep my emotions in balance. If I make one of those plays that impress people, it's not that I'm bragging that it was easy for me. I approach it like a routine play so I can be ready for the next one."
Baez posed for the "Body Issue"'s cover, one of several covers that the magazine has made, and is one 23 athletes featured in the pictorial. But he's the first to be shot on a smartphone. Photographer Dylan Coulter used an iPhone 7 Plus.Baez continues a run of "Body Issue" covers for Chicago athletes that most recently included Jake Arrieta, Dwyane Wade, Christen Press and Elena Delle Donne. (Phil Thompson-Chicago Tribune-June 21, 2017)
June 30, 2017: Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, considered one of the most electrifying players on the field, is now finding stardom off the field, too.
Baez, 24, who has emerged as one of the top 10 Major League Baseball players in endorsement deals, signing deals worth $2 million alone in the last six months, is now the face of David's sunflower seeds.
Yes, the iconic brand of sunflower seeds that has been around ballparks since 1926.
Baez will become the first baseball player to appear on the company’s packaging since former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter back in 2005. (Bob Nightengale -USA TODAY Sports)
Lost in the crowd of more than 450 youngsters at the Baseball ProCamp sharing his name, Javier bounced around from station to station until one small child finally grabbed his attention.
"Javy," the child shouted. "Your bat is on fire."
Perhaps, but that wasn't why Baez had ventured out to Evanston Township High School. Instead, Baez was there to help kids grades 1-8 learn the fundamentals of baseball as part of a ProCamp that partnered with the McCormick Boys & Girls Club to provide camp scholarships to disadvantaged kids.
And that was exactly what Baez did after returning his thanks to the child, who proceeded to run off with a sheepish smile to go tell his friends about the moment. The Cubs star went over to one of the groups, teaching them the proper way to lay down a bunt. It was a familiar image throughout the day.
"Really fun, really fun," Baez said. "In life, you don't stop learning. It's the same with baseball. You always learn something new about the game, and you get better. So we decided to teach some kids how to get better at baseball and motivate them to keep working, because that's where it really pays off."
Certainly there were plenty of lessons to go around. There were plenty of smiles as well. Baez worked through tens of groups of campers, playing a few games of catch and stopping for photos at just about every turn. Among the moments that stood out was an instance with one camper who simply wanted a better look at the tattoo on Baez's left shoulder and some others that were interested in learning the secret to a perfect tag.
"To work. To work and practice," Baez said, when asked what the most important thing to remember was. "It really pays off." (Chasen - mlb.com - 7/20/17)
- Baez is relatively quiet off the field. He's not one to clown around with his teammates in the clubhouse or make himself the center of attention. But once he steps across the white lines, he wears his passion on his sleeve.
He has fun, celebrates accomplishments and is not averse to the occasional bat flip. This can all rub some fans the wrong way, as they misinterpret his emotion as cockiness.
"You play the game with a lot of passion and obviously a lot of energy," Baez said. "You're just trying to leave everything out there and go day by day. That's them. I don't control what they say or what other people do. I just play my game, and whoever wants to support me, obviously, they're going to be welcome. Whoever doesn't like it, it's my style. It's the way I learned to play the game." (Gary Cohen - October, 2017)
June 2011: The Cubs chose Baez in the first round, out of Arlington Country School in Jacksonville, Florida. He signed on August 15, the deadline, for a bonus of $2.6 million, via scout Tom Clark.
- March 4, 2016: The Cubs and Baez agreed to a one-year deal for $521,000.