Top Prospect #20: Welinson Baez

The Phillies haven't done as good of a job as other teams in scouting the Dominican Republic, but they at least came up with a good infield prospect in Welinson Baez. While his early numbers weren't overly impressive, 2005 seemed to be a turning point for Baez.

Welinson Baez had just turned 18 when the Phillies signed him and instantly started touting his potential. Since he signed late in 2002, he didn't have the opportunity to start his career immediately and was assigned to the Gulf Coast League in 2003. In his first two seasons, Baez was unable to climb out of the GCL and had posted a two-season average of just .240 in the lowest levels of the organization. Once again, Baez was back in the GCL to start the 2005 season. There was another problem for Baez. In the June Draft, the Phillies grabbed one of the better third basemen available in Mike Costanzo, seemingly blocking Baez' path, since he had been spending most of his time playing at third. After 15 games in the GCL last season, Baez had shown progress and the Phillies decided that to encourage him, they would move him to shortstop - another position that Baez had played for the Phillies - and let him play alongside of Costanzo, rather than be blocked by him.

Baez responded well to the new surroundings and reached career highs in many offensive categories, including homeruns (6), RBI (37) and average (.324). He also showed better plate discipline, cutting down on his strikeout numbers from 2004. Now, it's likely that Baez will get to play in his first full-season league with a promotion to Lakewood in 2005 as a very real possibility.

'03 GCL 3 17 .246 41 142 20 35 6 1 3 12 37 .319
'04 GCL 4 18 .234 51 171 24 40 7 2 3 21 62 .320
'05 GCL 2 6 .267 15 45 6 12 4 1 1 8 14 .400
'05 Batavia 6 37 .324 45 170 6 12 4 1 2 22 45 .408
Career 15 78 .269 152 528 84 142 31 5 9 63 158 .355

Acquired: Signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in August, 2002.

Batting and Power: Baez isn't a powerful type hitter, but the Phillies believe that he should be able to be the type of hitter that can get on base with good frequency. Some power (10-12 homeruns per year) isn't out of the question, but generally, Baez won't be looked to for much help in that area. The Phillies would love the type of numbers that Baez put up in 2005, especially the on-base percentage.

Baserunning and Speed: Baez has average type speed and runs aggressively, but won't steal too many bases.

Defense: This is an area that the Phillies would love to see Baez improve on. Once he gets onto the better groomed fields of full-season leagues, it will be interesting to see if he improves defensively. The good news is that he works hard on his defense and has shown some improvement in his time with the organization.

Projection: Baez is now 21 and appears ready for an assignment to Lakewood. It will be interesting to watch Baez' progression over an entire season and to see how he can develop. For right now, he projects as a utility type player in the majors, but there is the potential that he could become a decent everyday player if he can show consistency.

Comparison: For now, the Phillies would be happy to see Baez turn into a Tomas Perez type player who can play a few different positions and help out off the bench. If all goes perfectly, Baez could wind up being a better version of Perez who could play on an everyday basis.


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