MiLBYs are the end-of-season awards that honor the best players, teams and performances of the Minor League season. For three weeks, fans chose their favorites in 13 categories, and now we're announcing the Fans' Choice winners as well as MiLB.com staff picks for the major awards.
There are no shortcuts to hitting four home runs in a single game, but it doesn't hurt to get Kevin Trembley to serve as your batboy.
Trembley, the son of Houston bench coach Dave Trembley, was the everyday batboy for the Daytona Cubs in 2006 when Ryan Harvey become the first player to collect four dingers in a Florida State League game.
Baez's four-homer game was so remarkable that it was selected by MiLB.com staff and fans alike as Best Game. Baez was the only player in affiliated baseball to do it this year, and the first Minor Leaguer to do it since 2011. Only 16 men have done it in MLB history, the first being Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters in 1894, and the most recent being Josh Hamilton for the Rangers in 2012.
But Baez's potential as a complete player makes the June 10 game that much more memorable. The Cubs named Baez their Minor League Player of the Year, and he was an MiLB.com Organization All-Star.
Improbably, seven years later, Trembley subbed in as batboy for one day in Daytona this season: June 10, when Javier Baez broke out with a 4-for-4, four home-run, seven-RBI performance.
"Kevin grew up being a batboy for the Daytona Cubs," explained Daytona director of broadcasting and media relations Robbie Aaron. "Now, he goes to [college]. He came back to be an intern with us this summer. For whatever reason, we were a little short-staffed on the day of Baez's home runs. Batboys are usually in high school, or even younger than that, but we needed somebody to do it that day."
Trembley happily obliged and ended up the batboy in the only two four-home run games since the circuit was founded in 1919.
Of course, the guys swinging the bats had something to do with the accomplishment, too.
Baez, the Cubs' top prospect and MLB.com's No. 9 overall prospect, socked 37 home runs over 130 games between Daytona and the Double-A Tennessee Smokies.
"The thing with Baez is, he's lively in batting practice every day. He hits the ball 400 feet in batting practice every day. The potential is never a question. In a situation where you're down by three in the ninth inning and really needing a home run, I absolutely take Baez," said Aaron.
The 20-year-old shortstop was the man for the job that Monday night, when the Cubs hosted the Fort Myers Miracle.
He went yard to right-center field in his first-inning at-bat against Twins prospect Matt Tomshaw, who also gave up Baez's second homer of the game.
He cracked another two innings later, and it was immediately clear this one was gone.
"The second one was the farthest. It was to left-center, and it went off a pickup truck, way out," said Aaron. "We hadn't seen too many out there. Two or three years ago, we had Justin Bour, who's a lefty and was with Tennessee this year, and he had that kind of power to center, but not since then."
Aaron's assistant, Michael West, handles the broadcast during a few innings each game. When possible, during home games Aaron takes the opportunity to go meet fans during his time away from the mic. He was in the stands when Baez launched a three-run roundtripper in the fifth against Miracle reliever Adrian Salcedo.
"When you have two in your first two at-bats - and he was the first player to do that for us this year, all the way up into the middle of the season -- to have that, and then to have a third one, I knew there was something special going on," Aaron said. "I ran back upstairs, knowing it was only the fifth inning, and I looked it up in the Florida State League record book. I'd known about Ryan Harvey, but I'd never heard of any other player doing it. I looked it up and saw that, sure enough, Harvey was the only one."
From that point on, in the back of Aaron's mind were the kinds of thoughts that might come to any baseball fan who'd seen a player hit three home runs in three at-bats.
"Since 1900 in Major League Baseball, only 14 people have done it. Even a perfect game is more common," he said. "I'd take Baez over anyone if I needed someone to do it."
By this time, news of Baez's big game had also reached Wrigleyville. Cubs director of player development Brandon Hyde had to tune in.
"We were getting updates, and I was watching his at-bats," he said. "We were well aware of what was going on."
There was reason to doubt, though, that a fourth homer was nigh. In addition to the obvious -- hitting home runs is hard -- Baez had a recent track record of being overly excited in another situation that could have put him in the record books.
"I actually thought back to our game on June 1, when we were playing the Brevard County Manatees," Aaron said. "We scored 14 runs in the first four innings. Everybody was having a good day, but Baez was 5-for his first 5. I think he had three doubles, a home run and six RBIs. I thought of that game, because he was swinging out of his shoes in the sixth at-bat, trying to go 6-for-6, swinging at really bad pitches.
"Baez strikes out a lot. He swings at a lot of pitches where they wouldn't be strikes, just not good pitches to swing at. So I thought he'd be swinging out of his shoes for that fourth home run, that there was not a good chance it was going to happen."
To Aaron's delight, he was wrong. Baez took two wild hacks in his seventh inning at-bat against Jose Gonzalez, but he took the next two bad pitches. He fouled off a 2-2 delivery and made history with his next swing, sending a drive down the left-field line.
"When he hit it," Aaron said, "the only question was if it was fair or foul, and the home plate ump was violently pointing fair."
In Chicago, Hyde was beaming.
"It's something I'm sure [Baez] will never forget. It was definitely exciting," he said, "It's just an amazing accomplishment, and not only that, but he hit the home runs to different parts of the field."
Aaron, who witnessed three no-hitters this year (two by Daytona, one by the Smokies in Tennessee) and also saw the Cubs take home the 2013 Florida State League title, puts the four-homer game on top of the list.
"For Baez, it was something huge," he said. "But you don't realize what an achievement it is until you sit down and think, 'OK, only two people have done this in how many games over 94 years in the Florida State League?'
"When it comes down to achievement, even the location, to do it at home, what an achievement. I think that was the most special game I've ever seen."