For Baez, Slow and Steady Wins The Race

Some prospects burst on the scene. Others take time to develop. Welinson Baez is somewhat of a combination of the two. He came to the Phillies organization with some very high hopes for his future, but it's taken him a while to truly become the kind of prospect that he was originally thought to be.

The Phillies signed Welinson Baez as an amateur free agent in 2002. After spending two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, Baez was back in the GCL to start the 2005 season. While he had hoped to be further advanced by now, Baez handled the assignment well and simply worked hard.

A little less than a month after the GCL season started, the hard work officially paid off and Baez got the promotion to Batavia that he was hoping for. Now, he's showing that he not only is ready for the New York / Penn League, but is ready for more tests down the road.

When spring of 2006 rolls around, Baez will be one of the young players in the organization to watch. The 21 year old out of the Dominican Republic could have done enough this summer to find himself in Lakewood with a little luck.

Combining his stats between the GCL and Batavia, Baez is hitting a combined .305 with 7 homeruns and 29 RBI to his credit. The best of the numbers come from his time in Batavia, where he has hit .320 in 32 games and is second on the team with 5 homeruns. His 23 RBI are good enough for second on the MuckDogs team.

With Mike Costanzo anchoring third base, Baez has been playing at shortstop and occasionally serving as a designated hitter. Initially, the Phillies figured on Baez as a third baseman, but now believe that with the way the organization is configured, his future will be at shortstop. The change has been one that Baez has done well at adapting to and while there are some minor holes defensively, they're nothing that really concerns the Phillies' minor league staff.

This season has been important for Baez not just because he finally got promoted out of the GCL, but because he is showing the type of numbers that he needed to show. In his first two seasons in the organization, Baez was only able to hit a combined .240 and had 7 homeruns over 92 minor league games. Clearly, the Phillies had looked for much more. Now, they're seeing it.

It's entirely possible that Baez will start next season back at Batavia. It's also entirely possible that he will be challenged with a promotion to Lakewood to start the 2006 campaign. Now that he's shown himself to be a true prospect, Baez could well be ready for challenges in his career.

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