Cubs hand out 2021 minor league awards
The Cubs unveiled their 2021 minor league awards Thursday morning, including a new name for each accolade.
The organization renamed the Minor League Player of the Year Award after Buck O’Neil, the Cubs legend who spent more than three decades in the organization in a variety of roles, including coach, scout and instructor. In 1962, he became the first African American coach in MLB history.
O’Neil managed Ernie Banks with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League, mentored Billy Williams and signed Hall of Famers like Lou Brock and Lee Smith while working as a scout. Major League Baseball also hands out the Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award every few years.
The Cubs named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award after A.B. “Vedie” Himsl, who spent 32 years as a pitcher, scout, minor league coordinator, big league coach and front office executive in the Cubs organization through 1985.
After superb 2021 campaigns, the Cubs awarded Brennen Davis the Buck O’Neil Minor League Player of the Year and DJ Herz the Vedie Himsl Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Davis — who turns 22 next month — is the unanimous Cubs top prospect and had a breakout minor league season while playing at Class-A South Bend, Double-A Tennessee and finishing the season with a 15-game stint at Triple-A Iowa.
He hit 19 homers with 53 RBI, 66 runs and a .260/.375/.494 slash line (.869 OPS) over 99 games.
Davis joined the Cubs Weekly Podcast this summer to chat with Lance Brozdowski about his magical 2021 season and how he handled the adjustment from Class-A to Double-A.
Herz, a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher, went 4-4 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and a whopping 131 strikeouts in 81.2 innings with Class-A Myrtle Beach and Advanced Class-A South Bend in 2021. He made 20 starts and finished the season strong with a 2.13 ERA and 14.6 K/9 over his final 5 outings.
Herz was ranked as an “Honorable Mention” in Brozdowski’s mid-season Top 20 prospects ranking.
What an honor… all the hard work paid off but only means now I gotta work harder…. Super blessed to be receiving this award with the many great Pitchers that came before me! https://t.co/51MU9DaJDq— Dj® (@DavidjohnHerz) October 7, 2021
The Cubs also named James Triantos the organization’s minor league player of the month for September and Daniel Palencia the pitcher of the month.
Triantos was the Cubs’ 2nd round pick this summer and hit .391 with a 1.199 OPS in the Arizona Complex League.
Palencia was acquired from the A’s in the deal for Andrew Chafin in July and the right-hander sported a 1.23 ERA and 20 strikeouts over 3 starts for Class-A Myrtle Beach.