Kyle Hendricks was not supposed to be this good. If you can’t blow your fastball by a hitter in the modern baseball game, you are shuffled to the back of the line and scouts will say you may be able to make it as a starter in the back of the rotation. Hendricks is proving this kind of conventional wisdom is flawed.
Hendricks is a manager’s dream because all he does is consistently throw strikes. Over four seasons and 399.2 innings pitched in the minor leagues, Hendricks has allowed just 1.6 walks per nine innings. Over that same time frame Hendricks has struck out batters at a rate of 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings, giving him a 4.97 K/BB ratio. So far in 2014, Hendricks has kept his walks to a minimum at 2.0 BB/9 while bumping his strikeout total all the way up to 9.7 K/9.
Hendricks has the ability to pinpoint his pitches and will read a hitter’s swing, purposefully disrupting the opposition’s timing by adding and subtracting anywhere from 85-92 on his fastball. Hendricks also fearlessly throws his change-up to any hitter and will mix in an average curveball and slider.
With 50 innings pitched at Iowa so far this season, Hendricks has put up a 3.06 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. At 24 years old, Hendricks is still younger than most in the Pacific Coast League, but he is still at the age where the Chicago Cubs are likely to bring him up at some point this season.
The one certainty with Hendricks is that he will not walk batters. He also has the intelligence on the mound to fool batters, which will give him his fair share of strikeouts. Hendricks is a low-risk pitcher whose upside seems to be growing every time he takes the mound for the Iowa Cubs and shuts down the opposition. With C.J. Edwards injured and Pierce Johnson struggling at Tennessee, Hendricks may be emerging as the Cubs’ top pitching prospect with close proximity to the Major Leagues.