9/21 Hendricks, Baez honored
Kyle Hendricks knows the importance of a good education. Hendricks, honored on Saturday as the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, returned to classes at Dartmouth last Monday to finish his degree. He’s majoring in economics with a minor in math.
“It’s tough,” Hendricks said about going back to school after a summer of baseball. “It’s fun being back and I still know some of the guys on the baseball team there. It’s definitely difficult being back in the classroom, taking classes.”
He’d rather focus on his fine-tuning his changeup, but he’ll graduate after this final semester and then it’ll be full time baseball.
Hendricks hasn’t received the amount of attention Javier Baez has. Baez was honored as the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year on Saturday after hitting 37 home runs and driving in 111 runs at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee combined. Baez had an eye opening Spring Training with the big league team.
“The guy’s a super athlete,” said Cubs Minor League director Brandon Hyde of Baez. “There’s still a lot of developing left. Sometimes he gets big and tries to do too much but that’s just youth. As soon as he matures as a hitter and continues to grow, it’ll be scary.”
Baez, 20, was going to continue his season in the Arizona Fall League but the Cubs decided the shortstop needed some rest, so he will instead go home to Florida, but take part in two mini camps in Mesa, Ariz., in November and then January. He downplayed his impressive statistics this season.
“I was just trying to do my best every time I played on the field and tried to do good,” Baez said.
Hendricks was Baez’s teammate at Tennessee, and knows how to deal with the shortstop.
“Don’t leave it over the plate,” Hendricks said about pitching to Baez. “[If you do] it’s going to go a long way. He’s a real good player. I’m excited to be here and share this with him.”
Hyde said he’s not just impressed by Baez’s power but also his baserunning and defense. The errors he made were mainly because the shortstop tried to do too much, Hyde said.
“His instincts to play are off the charts,” Hyde said. “I think he’s just scratching the surface to be honest.”
Baez was the Cubs’ first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Hendricks, 23, was acquired in July 2012 from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster deal.
“He was opening our eyes from the beginning,” Hyde said of the right-hander. “He’s unbelievably intelligent, knows how to attack hitters, knows hitters weaknesses, knows hitters strengths. He’s developing a better breaking ball. What an incredible year he had.”
Hendricks combined to go 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and a complete-game shutout in 27 starts between Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He struck out 128 batters and walked 34 over 166 1/3 innings pitched. The right-hander limited opponents to a .229 batting average.
Being at Wrigley Field on Saturday was eye opening for Hendricks.
“This is what you dream of, being on this field,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
For now, it’s back to school on Monday.
“This is my last quarter,” Hendricks said. “I have four classes and then I graduate. I figure while I have the opportunity, I might as well go back. It’s only a nine week quarter, so it’ll go by quick. It’ll go by quick.”
— Carrie Muskat