Led by top Cubs prospect, five Tennessee players honored
August 30, 2013
With 35 homers, 106 RBIs and a .919 OPS in 126 games this season, Javier Baez has had quite the extraordinary season in the Cubs farm system. Now, he's been recognized for the second time for his efforts.
After being named to the Florida State League squad last week, the Cubs' top prospect headlines this year's Southern League postseason All-Star team, along with other big-name prospects Joc Pederson (Dodgers) and Christian Bethancourt (Braves).
Baez, who moved up to Double-A Tennessee at the end of June, took the league's spot at shortstop thanks to a .299/.351/.637 slash line with 18 homers and 49 RBIs over 50 games. Despite the increase in competition, those actually surpass his .274/.338/.535/17/57 numbers through 76 contests for Class A Advanced Daytona.
Pederson -- the Dodgers' top and MLB.com's No. 45 overall prospect -- was honored for his work as an outfielder for Chattanooga. As of Friday, he leads the circuit's eligible position players in slugging percentage (.497) and ranks second in OPS (.880), third in homers (21) and OBP (.384) and fourth in steals (30). It is the second time in three seasons that the 21-year-old has taken home postseason honors after being named a Pioneer League All-Star in 2011.
Braves No. 3 prospect Bethancourt made waves not only behind the plate as Mississippi's catcher but also at it. His 40-game on-base streak from June 13 to Aug. 14 was 12 clear of the next closest in the Southern League this season (Dan Brewer's 28-gamer, also with the M-Braves). The two-time Futures Game selection owns a .280/.307/.441 line with a career high 12 homers.
Baez's teammates Arismendy Alcantara (.270/.351/.455, 30 steals) and Matt Szczur (.277/.345/.365, 21 steals) also found their ways to the second base and outfield spots on this year's All-Star squad following impressive campaigns at the plate and on the basepaths. Meanwhile, Christian Villanueva (.259/.315/.460, 17 homers, 68 RBIs) earned his spot at third base for his power, giving Tennessee three of the four infield honorees on this year's team.
Mobile outfielder Ender Inciarte leads the circuit with 43 steals and as such was named Best Hustler, a title taken home by Minor League stolen base king Billy Hamilton last year when he swiped 43 bags in 50 games for Pensacola.
Kyle Hendricks rounded out the Smokies representatives after getting the call as the league's best right-handed pitcher. The 23-year-old, who is now with Triple-A Iowa, led eligible hurlers with a 1.85 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 21 starts (126 1/3 innings). Montgomery's Enny Romero (2.76 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) took the spot as best left-hander, and Jacksonville's Michael Brady earned best reliever after leading the Double-A circuit with 22 saves to go with his 1.59 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 47 appearances.
Here's the list of this year's Southern League post-season All-Stars: