9/13/2013 7:54 P.M. ET
Jauss not surprised by Lake's success in outfield
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates coach Dave Jauss wasn't surprised to see Cubs rookie Junior Lake catching nearly everything hit his way in the outfield. Jauss is partly responsible for Lake playing there.
This past winter, Jauss was Lake's manager in the Dominican Republic when the then shortstop played for him. The problem was, there wasn't room on Estrellas' roster for Lake to play short. The teams play a 50-game schedule, and Jauss said managers there can be fired in five days rather than five weeks if they don't win.
"Junior was having a great year and was a very talented infielder, but not an accomplished enough infielder to win the game all the time, and especially at shortstop," Jauss said Friday. "The shortstops playing in that league were Miguel Tejada and Hanley Ramirez, and that's quite a difference."
Jauss started Lake as the designated hitter, and he contacted Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer and player development director Jason McLeod to see if he could move the youngster to the outfield. Once he got the go-ahead, Lake played center and left, getting extra lessons from coaches Brian Daubach and Junior Zamora.
"He continued to be as good a player as anybody in the league," Jauss said. "He and [Jean] Segura were up for MVP of the [Dominican] league last year.
"I give all the credit to [Lake] for not balking at moving," Jauss said. "Other than him taking three runs away from us [Thursday] night, I'm glad he did it."
Lake snared Russell Martin's fly ball in left to end the Pirates' fourth on Thursday, stranding two runners. Jauss isn't surprised to see Lake's improvement in the field.
"From the first day out there, you knew he'd be able to play out there," Jauss said.
Thursday was the 50th game of Lake's young career, and he extended his hitting streak to nine games, which matches his career high, also done Aug. 18-26. This is Lake's fourth hitting streak of seven games or more. He is the only active Major Leaguer to begin his career with four separate, standalone hitting streaks of seven games or more in his first 50 games.
Two active players posted a similar feat to Lake's. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in 2001, Ichiro Suzuki began his career with a 23-game hitting streak and a 15-game hitting streak within his first 50 games, which amounts to five stretches of hitting in seven straight games. In 2000, Juan Pierre began his career with a 16-game hitting streak and a 15-game hitting streak within his first 50 games, which amounts to four stretches of hitting in seven straight games.
Baez, Hendricks earn Cubs' Minor League awards
PITTSBURGH -- Shortstop Javier Baez and right-hander Kyle Hendricks were named the Cubs organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, for 2013.
The two will be honored during an on-field ceremony prior to the Cubs' 3:05 p.m. CT game Sept. 21 against the Braves at Wrigley Field.
Rated as the Cubs' No.1 prospect, the 20-year-old Baez combined to bat .282 with 34 doubles, four triples, 37 home runs and 111 RBIs in 130 games between Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee in his second full professional season. His 111 RBIs and 75 extra-base hits led Minor League baseball, and he ranked second in home runs.
The shortstop is the first Minor League player in 17 seasons to reach 30 doubles, 30 home runs, 100 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in the same season since D.T. Cromer did so in 1996 for the Class A Modesto A's.
Baez began the year with Daytona and hit .274 with 19 doubles, four triples, 17 home runs and 57 RBIs in 76 games. He became the second player in the 94-year history of the Florida State League to hit four home runs in a game when he did so June 10 against Fort Myers. Former Cubs farmhand Ryan Harvey also did so July 28, 2006, against Clearwater.
Promoted to Tennessee on July 6, Baez batted .294 with 15 doubles, 20 home runs and 54 RBIs in 54 games. Even though he played in less than half of the Southern League's schedule, he ranked fourth in the league in home runs.
The Cubs' first-round pick in 2011, Baez has recorded a .934 fielding percentage in 203 games at shortstop.
Hendricks, 23, 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.
In 21 starts at Tennessee, Hendricks was 10-3 with a 1.85 ERA and earned Southern League midseason All-Star honors. He gave up four earned runs over 43 innings in his final seven starts with the Smokies. Hendricks went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in six starts for Iowa, and he held opponents to a .235 batting average.
The right-hander was acquired from the Rangers, along with infielder Christian Villanueva, for pitcher Ryan Dempster in July 2012.
Cubs to host reception on Clemente Day at Wrigley
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs will host a reception for Hispanic business, civic and community leaders and invite more than 1,000 youth to the Sept. 23 game to celebrate Roberto Clemente Day, part of Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sunday.
The youth invited to the game against the Pirates at Wrigley Field will be from Hispanic community groups.
Omar Duque, president of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game as well.
Minors coach Duncan impressed with prospect Baez
PITTSBURGH -- Mariano Duncan was surprised to get a text from Cubs' top prospect Javier Baez thanking the former big leaguer for all he did as the shortstop's hitting coach at Class A Daytona.
Duncan, who was with the Cubs Friday in Pittsburgh, said Baez sent the message before the Minor League season ended.
"He said, 'Thank you for having patience with me for the whole year. It means a lot to me,'" Duncan said. "I texted him back and said, 'Thank you for listening and making the adjustments.' When I texted him back, I said, 'Don't thank me for that. I get paid to do that and to try to develop you guys and make you a better player.' All the credit should go to him. He works so hard and he listens. He did everything he is supposed to do on the field."
On Friday, Baez was named the Cubs' Minor League Player of the Year after he combined to bat .282 with 34 doubles, four triples, 37 home runs and 111 RBIs in 130 games between Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.
Duncan, 50, said he was impressed with the way Baez recovered from a slow start to post the stellar numbers. The two studied video to see how pitchers were approaching him, and Duncan emphasized being prepared and repeating his mechanics.
"The only thing thing I'm concerned about with him is to pay attention to detail and come every day to play the game right," Duncan said. "He had a little bit of a problem in the beginning, but he made the adjustments and you see what kind of year he had.
"One thing I texted him was that the only thing I want from him is when he goes to the big leagues to stay humble, and when he gets to the big leagues, be the same Javy that he is right now in the Minor Leagues," Duncan said. "He texted me back and said, 'I promise I'll do that.' He's got all the ability to be a good, solid Major League player. He has a great future in front of him. You'll see that kid in the big leagues plenty soon."
Cubs fans eager to see the club's 2011 No. 1 Draft pick on the big league team want to know how soon.
"It's up to him right now," Duncan said of the 20-year-old shortstop. "He has the ability to be a good, everyday player in the big leagues. Now it's up to him as to how quick he'll be there. The way he developed, he's getting very close to be there."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.