Kyle Hendricks, righthanded pitcher, 6-3, 190
Drafted by the Rangers in the eighth round in 2011 from Dartmouth
Acquired with Christian Villanueva in the Ryan Dempster trade in July 2012
Probable Landing Spot in 2014: Triple-A Iowa
A few days ago, I watched one of my favorite options of the 2013 season. During a series when Javier Baez was starting to break out of his lengthy Double-A slump, the Tennessee Smokies were playing a series in Jackson against the Generals. The first inning started with Matt Szczur slipping a single past the second baseman. Following a protracted at bat, John Andreoli fanned. Up 1-0 in the count, Javier Baez went very deeeeeeep to center, and the Generals center fielder went all the way to the wall. The ball was well gone.
Two hitters later, Christian Villanueva hit a no-doubter to left.
By the time Kyle Hendricks headed to the mound, he was ahead 3-0. The announcer did what he always does, going through the starter's repertoire (medium velocity fastball, curve ball, and an impressive change up) and how he has done against the Generals (third start, no runs allowed), and nine pitches later, the first inning was in the rear view mirror. Jackson didn't score on him that night, either.
Hendricks is rather difficult to explain. He attacks hitters with middling velocity. To this point, he has been very successful. Baseball lore is littered with pitchers flying through the minors, only to get a rude awakening at the big league level. However, Hendricks does change speeds well, and could be the type that frustrates even the good hitters in the majors.
Born in California, he attended Dartmouth, and has graduated since joining the Cubs. While there is temptation, off of a solid season in Double-A Tennessee and a pit stop in Triple-A, to run him to the majors in early 2014, I don't see a rush. He is a crafty pitcher, and there is a realistic chance that, whenever he gets the call, his first few outings may send him back to Triple-A. There's no offense in that, if it happens. However, it makes sense to let him get a more full look at Triple-A hitters before subjecting him to a major league line-up.
I doubt Hendricks would get too deterred by a rough first outing. However, whether he ends up being a long-term piece or a trade chip, setting a player up for failure is rarely a wise idea.
Adding Villanueva and Hendricks on a tight deadline for Ryan Dempster's 12 starts for the Rangers looks rather nice so far. Kind of like an early 3-0 lead against a team you've shut down twice already in the season.