Kyle Hendricks does not excite scouts with his stuff and failed to make Baseball America’s list of top 30 prospects for the Chicago Cubs heading into 2013. However, despite the lack of recognition and belief in his long-term prospects, Hendricks went out and dominated the upper minors in 2013, winning Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in the process.
Lacking the ability to put hitters away with a plus fastball or wipeout slider, Hendricks gets things done the old fashioned way: he uses pinpoint control and out-thinks the opposing hitter.
In 126.1 innings pitched at double-A, Hendricks was lights out, limiting his walks to 1.85 per nine innings while striking out 7.71 batters per nine. As a pitcher with excellent command, Hendricks was also able to limit his home runs allowed to just 0.55 per nine innings. Add it all up, and Hendricks compiled an ERA of 1.85 before being promoted to triple-A Iowa.
At triple-A, it was more of the same for Hendricks, with 1.80 BB/9, 6.08 K/9, 0.45 HR/9 and a 2.48 ERA in 40 innings pitched. In his minor league career, Hendricks has a 5.24 K/BB rate, a 2.41 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
Despite the numbers, most scouts see Hendricks as a no. 5 pitcher in a big league rotation. He has a chance to prove all the doubters wrong as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in less than a week. With the Cubs’ no. 5 spot in the rotation up for grabs, Hendricks is a dark horse candidate to impress in Spring Training and earn himself a ticket north with the big club after the final cuts are made.
Hendricks has consistently proved talent evaluators wrong by combining his pitching intellect with flawless command, and it may be enough to land him his first taste of the major leagues in 2014.