Cubs honor Hoffpauir, Atkins

Cubs honor Hoffpauir, Atkins

CHICAGO -- First baseman/outfielder Micah Hoffpauir and right-handed pitcher Mitch Atkins were named the Cubs' Minor League player and pitcher of the year on Saturday.

Hoffpauir, 28, split the season between Triple-A Iowa and the big league team. In 71 games at Iowa, he set career highs with 25 home runs and 100 RBIs, hitting .362 with 34 doubles, two triples and a 1.145 OPS. And he did all of that despite missing the first month of the season with a strained left oblique.

Hoffpauir would've been called up to the Cubs last year but suffered a knee injury near the All-Star break.

"Getting back from that knee injury, we didn't know what was going to happen and what kind of explosiveness I'd have," Hoffpauir said. "To get back from that is nice."

What keeps him going?

"The opportunity to play in the big leagues," he said. "That's what the goal is for all of us. When I started in Little League, that's what I wanted to do. To be given the opportunity to get here and getting that first taste this year was really a kick in the pants. That's where you want to be. You work your tail off to get back. That's the motivation."

Atkins was 9-6 with a 3.76 ERA at Double-A Tennessee, winning his last five starts. He pitched at Iowa and won seven in a row from July 11 to Aug. 14, finishing with an 8-1 record and 4.47 ERA in 10 starts.

He held Southern League hitters to a .250 average and limited opponents at Triple-A to a .236 average, striking out 44 in 54 1/3 innings. Atkins, who was at Wrigley Field Saturday to accept the award, said he didn't keep track of his win streak.

"I know if I'm pitching good or not, so I don't worry about the stats," he said.

A seventh-round pick in 2004, Atkins, 22, said a new pitch helped him this season.

"I started throwing a cutter, and being able to throw that when I'm behind in the count whenever I wanted, that kept the hitters off balance," Atkins said.

On Saturday, the parent club had a chance to clinch the National League Central with a win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"Maybe I'll be a good-luck charm, and they'll clinch," Atkins said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.