CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs today named outfielder Brennen Davis the Buck O’Neil Cubs Minor League Player of the Year and left-handed pitcher DJ Herz the Vedie Himsl Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Additionally, infielder Pedro Ramírez and right-handed pitcher Oliver Roque have been named the Cubs Dominican Summer League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
Davis, 21, combined to bat .260 (91-for-350) with 25 doubles, 19 home runs, 53 RBI, 50 walks and a .375 on-base percentage in 99 games between High-A South Bend, Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2021. His 271 total bases ranked fourth-most among full-season minor league players while his 65 extra-base hits ranked fifth. In his first seven games at the Triple-A level beginning September 14, Davis hit .444 (12-for-27) with a double, five home runs, nine RBI, four walks and a 1.442 OPS.
Davis was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Month for July after he earned Most Valuable Player honors at the 2021 MLB Futures Game held July 11 in Colorado, going 2-for-3 with two home runs and two RBI. The organization’s top prospect according to MLB.com heading into the 2021-22 offseason, Davis yesterday was named to the Double-A South Post-Season All-Star Team by minor league baseball. Davis in 2019 earned Cubs Minor League Player of the Year honors and that year was named a MiLB.com Organization All-Star.
Selected in the second round of the 2018 draft out of Basha High School in Gilbert, Ariz., the right-handed hitting Davis is batting .277 (162-for-584) with 36 doubles, three triples, 27 home runs, 86 RBI, 18 stolen bases and a .383 on-base percentage in 167 career minor league games. He was a non-roster invitee to major league Spring Training in 2021.
Herz, 20, posted a 3.31 ERA (30 ER/81.2 IP) in 26 starts between Low-A Myrtle Beach and Single-A South Bend in 2021, walking 44 and striking out 131 batters, good for an average of 14.4 strikeouts per 9.0 innings, with a 1.05 WHIP. The Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May, he limited batters to a .157 average (42-for-268), a .291 on-base percentage and a .578 OPS last season. Herz’s 131 strikeouts led Cubs minor league pitchers and on August 21 at Fayetteville he struck out a career-high 10 batters in 4.0 innings.
Herz, ranked as the 13th-best prospect in the organization by MLB.com, was selected by Chicago in the eighth round of the 2019 draft out of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, N.C. He is 4-5 with a 3.23 ERA (33 ER/92.0 IP) in 26 career minor league starts with 52 walks and 139 strikeouts to contribute to a 1.13 WHIP.
Ramírez, 21, hit .359 (70-for-195) with 37 runs, 11 doubles, seven triples, one home run, 30 RBI and nine stolen bases in 50 games for the Cubs DSL Red squad. The switch-hitter drew 13 walks compared to 20 strikeouts in 216 plate appearances and recorded a .417 on-base percentage with a .919 OPS. His 70 hits led the Dominican Summer League, while his 98 total bases tied for the league lead, his seven triples tied for second and his .359 average was third.
Signed as an international free agent by Chicago out of Temblador, Venezuela in January of this year, Ramirez played 24 games at shortstop, 23 games at second base and four games at third base this season for the Cubs DSL team.
Roque, 19, was 1-1 with a 0.85 ERA (3 ER/31.2 IP) and one save in 16 games (two starts) for the Cubs DSL Blue team. He walked eight, struck out 26 and recorded a 0.66 WHIP with a .125 batting average against. He did not allow an earned run in his first eight outings spanning 12.2 innings. Born in Santo Domingo, D.R., Roque signed with Chicago as an international free agent in November of 2019.
The Buck O’Neil Cubs Minor League Player of the Year Award
The Cubs have named their Minor League Player of the Year Award after the legendary John “Buck” O’Neil, who spent 33 seasons (1956-88) in the Cubs organization as a scout, coach and instructor. A first baseman and manager for the Kansas City Monarchs, Buck managed Ernie Banks and Gene Baker when the two signed with the Cubs. As a scout for the organization, Buck signed future Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Lee Smith, as well as MLB veterans George Altman, Oscar Gamble and Joe Carter. As a mentor, O’Neil was instrumental in the development of Hall of Famer Billy Williams.
After several seasons as a minor league and spring training instructor, O’Neil was promoted to the Cubs major league coaching staff in 1962 to become the first African American coach in MLB history. A driving force behind the creation of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, O’Neil was a long-time chairman of the institution and was an advocate for inducting Negro League players into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 2006, O’Neil was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the United States’ highest civilian honor. Two years later, he was honored by the Hall of Fame with the creation of an award in his honor - the Buck O'Neil Lifetime Achievement Award – an award to be given not more than once every three years to honor an individual whose extraordinary efforts enhanced baseball's positive impact on society, broadened the game's appeal, and whose character, integrity and dignity are comparable to the qualities exhibited by O'Neil.
The Vedie Himsl Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award
The Cubs have named their Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award after A.B. “Vedie” Himsl, a former minor league pitcher whose time with the Cubs spanned 32 seasons through 1985. He joined the organization as a scout, and a year later in 1953 co-authored the final scouting report recommending the signing of Ernie Banks – the first African American to play for the Cubs. By the late 1950s, Himsl added roles as roving pitching instructor and minor league coordinator to his scouting duties.
Himsl joined the Cubs major league staff as pitching coach in 1960 and served as part of the College of Coaches system through the 1964 season. In 1961, Himsl was named the first Head Coach in MLB history, serving three stints in the role during the season. He also served as Head Coach for many of the team’s minor league affiliates during the College of Coaches era.
Himsl joined the front office in 1965 serving as the Assistant Director of Player Development and Procurement for four years. After a two-year stint as Director of MLB's Central Scouting Bureau, he returned to the Cubs in 1971, and a year later was promoted to Director of Scouting, a position he held until retiring after the 1985 season. Himsl continued to consult with the Cubs on scouting matters for well over the next decade.