KODAK, Tenn. – Tennessee Smokies infielder Javier Baez and right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks were named by the Chicago Cubs this morning as the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. The duo will be honored at Wrigley Field during an on-field ceremony prior to the Cubs’ September 21 game against the Atlanta Braves.
Baez, 20, hit .294 (64-for-218) with 15 doubles, 20 home runs and 54 RBIs in 54 games for the Smokies in 2013. Although he was only promoted to Tennessee on July 6, the shortstop ranked fourth in the Southern League with his 20 home runs and was named to the league’s Postseason All-Star team.
In his second full professional season, Baez hit a combined .282 (146-for-517) with 34 doubles, four triples, 37 home runs and 111 RBIs in 130 games between Single-A Daytona and Tennessee. His 111 RBIs and 75 extra-base hits led all of Minor League Baseball while his 37 home runs ranked him second.
On June 10, he became the second player in the 94-year history of the Florida State League to hit four home runs in a game, which led Baez to his second FSL “Hitter of the Week” award of the season.
Baez’s career year brought the young slugger many accolades this season. He was named the Florida State League “Hitter of the Week” twice (April 22-29 & June 10-17), a FSL midseason All-Star, a SL postseason All-Star and Cubs’ Minor League “Hitter of the Month” for June.
Heading into the 2013 season, Baez was rated at the organization’s top prospect by Baseball America. He holds a career .286 batting average (237-for-828) with 49 doubles, 10 triples, 53 home runs and 158 RBIs in 215 minor league contests. The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native first round selection (ninth overall) in the 2011 draft out of Arlington Country Day High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
Hendricks, 23, started 21 games for the Smokies in 2013 and finished 10-3 with a 1.85 ERA allowing just 26 earned runs in 126.1 innings of work, while striking out 101 compared to only 26 walks. He limited opposing hitters to a .227 batting average (107-for-472), while also allowing the fewest baserunners per 9.0 innings pitched at 9.83. His .769 winning percentage and 1.05 WHIP also led the Southern League. His 1.85 ERA claimed the 2013 Southern League ERA title and earned his first call-up to Triple-A Iowa on August 8.
In his second full professional season, Hendricks combined to go 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA (37 ER/166.1 IP) in 27 starts between Tennessee and Iowa. He walked 34 and struck out 128 in 166.1 innings of work. The 23-year-old led the Cubs organization in with 13 victories and his 2.00 ERA. Hendricks ranks seventh among all pitchers in Minor League Baseball in ERA (2.00), ninth with 166.1 innings pitched and 14th with a WHIP of 1.06.
The Newport, Calif. native was named the starting pitcher for the North Division in the 2013 Southern League All-Star game in Jacksonville, Fla. and was recognized by the Southern League as the top right-handed pitcher on the Postseason All-Star team. Hendricks was named the Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May and earned Southern League Pitcher of the Week honors for the week of June 3-10.
Originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the eighth round of the 2011 draft out of Dartmouth College, Hendricks was traded to the Cubs in 2012, along with INF Christian Villanueva, for RHP Ryan Dempster.