Cubs give top minor-league honors to Baez, Hendricks
It should come as no surprise that shortstop Javier Baez was named today the Cubs’ minor-league player of the year. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks was named the organization’s pitcher of the year. The two will be honored Sept. 21 at Wrigley Field during a pregame ceremony.
Baez played for both Class A Daytona and Class AA Tennessee this season, putting up a combined line of .282/.341/.578 for an OPS of .920. Between the two stops, he hit 37 home runs, drove in 111 runs and stole 20 bases.
The 20-year-old Baez is the first minor-league player in 17 seasons to reach 30 doubles, 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 20 stolen bases in the same season since D.T. Cromer did so in 1996 for the Modesto A’s (40 doubles, 30 home runs, 130 RBI and 20 stolen bases). He also became just the second player in the 94-year history of the Florida State League to hit 4 home runs in a game when he did so June 10 against Fort Myers, joining former Cubs farmhand Ryan Harvey, who hit 4 on July 28, 2006 vs. Clearwater.
Although he played in less than half of the 138-game Southern League schedule, his 20 home runs ranked fourth in the Double-A league.
In 215 minor-league games for his career, covering 916 plate appearances, Baez has a line of .286/.342/.562 for an OPS of .903. He has 53 homers and 158 RBI.
The Cubs selected Baez in the first round (ninth pick overall) in the 2011 draft out of Arlington Country Day School in Jacksonville, Fla.
I fully expect him to push hard next spring training to win a spot on the big-league club, although the Cubs will be in no hurry to start his free-agency clock. At the earliest, he’d possibly come up sometime in May.
Hendricks, 23, combined to go 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and a WHIP of 1.06 in 27 starts between Tennessee and Class AAA Iowa. He struck out 128 and walked just 34 in 166.1 innings pitched, good for a 3.76 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Hendricks surrendered 5 home runs while limiting the opponent to a .229 batting average. His 2.00 ERA was seventh-best among full-season minor league pitchers while his 166.1 innings ranked ninth.
Hendricks was 10-3 with a 1.85 ERA in 21 starts to begin the season with Tennessee, earning Southern League mid-season all-star honors.
The Cubs acquired Hendricks from Texas along with third baseman Christian Villanueva for pitcher Ryan Dempster on July 31, 2012, Hendricks is 21-14 with a 2.42 ERA 3 complete games and 1 shutout in 73 career minor-league games, including 52 starts. The Rangers originally took Hendricks in the eighth round of the 2011 draft.
I expect him to battle for a big-league job, or at least make a strong impression, next spring in Arizona.