Kyle Hendricks, P
Age: 24 (12/7/1989)
2013 Teams: Tennessee Smokies, Southern League, (AA); Iowa Cubs, Pacific Coast League (AAA)
Northsiders Report 2014 Ranking—# 6
How acquired—Traded along with Christina Villanueva from Texas for Ryan Dempster on July 31, 2012.
Prior to Cubs
Hendricks' high school team went 86-21 during his career at Capistrano Valley in California and as a senior, finished 8-2 with a 0.93 ERA and 65 K in 75 innings. After earning first-team CIF Division I honors, Hendricks was drafted in the 39th round by the Angels but decided to attended Dartmouth. He earned Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball and named second-team All-Ivy going 6-2 with a 4.84 ERA in 67 innings. He didn't enjoy the same success as a sophomore as his ERA jumped to 7.49 allowing 80 hits in 57.2 innings. He dominated his junior year, earning first-team All-Ivy honors and was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week three times. He fanned 70 in 62 innings and finished 5-3 with a 2.47 ERA.
The Rangers used their eighth-round pick on the right-hander in 2011 and he turned pro, making his debut for Spokane in the Northwest League on June 18. Hendricks was named the 20th ranked prospect in the NWL by Baseball America after going 2-2 in 20 relief appearances with a 1.93 ERA, 36 IP, and 32 K. Hendricks tossed six innings (three games) against the Cubs' affiliate Boise, allowing one hit with 12 strikeouts. Hendricks started his first full-season armed with an arsenal of pitches and pin point control at Class A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League. He fanned a career-high 11 in eight innings vs. Wilmington and earned mid-season all-star honors. In 20 starts, he tossed 130.2 innings with 123 strikeouts and 18 walks. His Ranger career ended on July 31 when he was traded to the Cubs for Ryan Dempster.
After the trade, Hendricks was assigned to the Florida State League and made four starts for Daytona, making his debut in relief on Aug. 8. He threw 17 innings and earned his first win as a Cub on Aug. 24 against Tampa. Between the two A-ball levels, he tossed 147 innings with a walk rate of 1.1 BB/9.
In his first full season with the North Siders, Hendricks was named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year and established himself as a contender for a spot in Chicago's rotation. Making 21 starts in AA, Hendricks was the league's best pitcher. Sporting a 10-3 record and a paltry 1.85 ERA, the right-hander displayed his pinpoint control, walking only 26 hitters in 126.1 innings. He recorded 101 strikeouts and earned Southern League mid-season and post-season all-star honors. He spent the final month of the season attacking AAA hitters and he was up to the task, lasting at least five innings in all six starts. He earned his first AAA win in his debut against Fresno on Aug. 8 and finished his Iowa season with 40 innings and a 2.28 ERA. Hendricks was honored at Wrigley Field, along with Player of the Year Javier Baez, on Sept. 21. He threw a career-high 166.1 innings with a 13-4 record and a 2.00 ERA.
Hendricks will start 2014 in Iowa but there's an outside shot he makes the Cubs starting rotation out of spring training, especially if pitching coach Chris Bosio has his way. "There's a certain philosophy on development, but, if you have guys that compete, work fast and get outs, it doesn't matter what your age is. Hendricks just keeps getting guys out. What's to say he couldn't be a fourth or fifth starter? That's what spring training is going to be for. Trust me. I'll be talking to Theo, Jed and Rick about giving this guy ample opportunity to be that guy for us," Bosio said this winter in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
A smooth delivery that's easily repeated allows Hendricks to go after hitters with his arsenal of pitches including two fastballs, an above-average change-up, and two breaking balls. Hendricks doesn't consider himself a strikeout pitching, rather preferring to pitch to contact and get ground balls. Hendricks has the ability to change speeds on his fastball, throwing both a two-seam (89-91) and four-seam (93-94). His breaking balls are a curve/slider combo that runs from 77-82 and a big breaker in the low 70s. His best pitch may be his 75-78 mph change-up but his ability to throw all of them for strikes is his best tool. Hendricks possess good athletic skills and fields his position. The consensus puts Hendricks' ceiling as a back of the rotation arm. I like him a little more. The combination of his pitches, along with the command and intelligence of the guy delivering them, give Hendricks a chance to take the ball 30 times a year. Pretty sure he'll be fine if he doesn't get the ball until the fourth game of the season.