Mr. Kendrick, Meet Mr. Floyd

It was five years ago when Gavin Floyd was a highly touted prospect in the Phillies organization. He quickly went from prospect to suspect for the Phillies and Kyle Kendrick may be headed for the same fate.

Coming into the 2004 season, Philly Baseball News and Baseball America had him ranked as the second best prospect in the Phillies organization, right behind Cole Hamels. He had been the Phillies first round pick - fourth overall - in the 2001 Draft and started the season at Double-A Reading at the age of 21. Before long, he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton and then to the Phillies for a September audition, which went well enough for him to be penciled into the 2005 starting rotation, where he started the season. By the time April was over though, Floyd was struggling (1-1, 14.14 in four starts) and was back at Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

That was the beginning of the end for Floyd in Philadelphia. Eventually, his star would fall far enough that it would take both he and Gio Gonzalez to lure Freddy Garcia away from the White Sox in December of 2006. After struggling for the Sox in 2007, Floyd was showing signs of becoming the type of pitcher that the Phillies had always hoped he would be as a member of the 2008 Chicago White Sox rotation. He won 17 games for Chicago last season and got a four-year, $15.5 million extension this past March.

Enter Kyle Kendrick.

Unlike Floyd, Kendrick wasn't a highly respected prospect. Kendrick wasn't ranked in Baseball America's top 30 Phillies prospects coming into 2007 and Philly Baseball News had him ranked 34th. He started the 2007 season at Double-A as a 22 year old and didn't really factor into the Phillies plans. Coming into June, he was 3-7, but had a nice 3.48 ERA with Reading and started the month of June with a complete game win over Harrisburg.

Ironically, it was Freddy Garcia who wound up on the DL for the Phillies, necessitating a replacement. When the Phillies looked around, they found Kendrick and decided to give him a shot at the big league rotation. It was figured to be a short stay, until something more permanent could be worked out, but Kendrick's performance - and the Phillies inability to find another starter - kept Kendrick in the majors for the rest of the season and he went on to win 10 games and post a 3.87 ERA, helping the Phillies into the post-season.

Like Floyd in 2005, Kendrick was penciled into the Phillies starting rotation for 2008. Literally from his first start of the season, Kendrick just wasn't the same pitcher that he was in 2007 and hitters were making him pay for his mistakes. Pitches that it seemed hitters wouldn't be able to do much with in 2007, were flying all over the park in 2008. As the post-season approached, Kendrick was kept off of the post-season roster and was sent to the Florida Instructional League for more work, primarily on his change-up. This spring, Kendrick had to fight for a spot and started strong, but then tailed off and was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for his first stint at the highest level of the minors.

The 2009 season has been somewhat of a roller coaster for Kendrick. While he was disappointed to be at Triple-A, he headed out and gave his all and his improved change-up seemed to be nearing the point where he would find his way back to Philadelphia. At the major league level, Chan Ho Park struggled, but the Phillies didn't summon Kendrick, opting instead to put young J.A. Happ into the rotation. Then, Brett Myers went down with a bad hip and again, Kendrick was overlooked for a spot with the big league club, as they opted for adding a fourth left-hander to their rotation in 23 year old Antonio Bastardo. That decision was especially tough on Kendrick, because Bastardo, who is a rising star in the organization, was below Kendrick on the depth chart to start the season and had just recently been promoted to Lehigh Valley after starting the season at Double-A Reading.

So is Kyle Kendrick's path looking like that of Gavin Floyd? At this point, it's easy to imagine Kendrick being a simple piece of the puzzle that the Phillies would include in a deal with another club as they look for pieces to make their major league club that much better. Kendrick, at this point, is viewed simply as a guy who overachieved for one season and is now back to being the low prospect that he was before being promoted to the majors in 2007.

Kendrick is not the happiest campier in the IronPigs clubhouse, but he's also not anywhere near being a distraction. In fact, earlier this week, he made his first start since being looked over for Myers' spot in the rotation and pitched well, giving the 'Pigs seven strong innings and lowering his ERA to 4.05 after 11 starts.

The fact that the Phillies have overlooked Kendrick twice for promotions to the big league club gives the appearance that they're not confident in his ability to get major league hitters out. That's odd, because earlier this season, Kendrick pitched to his old battery mate Carlos Ruiz, who was rehabbing with Lehigh Valley, and Ruiz reported that Kendrick had as good of stuff as he ever saw him throw.

Perhaps, the Phillies have opted not to recall Kendrick for fear that he would struggle in the majors and completely deflate any trade value that he may have. Of course, the other side of that argument is that if he had been promoted and pitched well, his value would have risen. With the trade deadline less than two months away and rumors swirling throughout baseball of various high profile players being shopped, Kendrick could well become a part of a package deal to land a big name starter. Much like Floyd, Kendrick would be somewhat of a throw-in to the deal, with the Phillies seemingly admitting defeat and giving him a change of scenery to potentially grow in. Kendrick would seem to be one of those pitchers desperately needing a simple change of scenery to right himself.

Of course, all in not well for Floyd these days. He's again struggling for the White Sox (3-5, 5.75) and isn't the pitcher that the Sox saw last season. So, in the end, maybe the Phillies didn't lose too much by dealing Floyd, although 17 wins last season would have led the Phillies pitching staff. It's going to take more time to fully evaluate the pitcher that Floyd will ultimately be, just as it will take time to realize what will become of Kyle Kendrick. Odds are though, the evaluation won't include any further work as a member of the Phillies starting rotation.

Major League career stats

Floyd 28-23 5.09 84 73 452.1 9.4 286 256 3.6 6.5 1.5 .267 1.450
Kendrick 21-13 4.78 51 50 276.2 10.5 156 147 2.7 3.8 1.3 .294 1.464

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