With the recent trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics, two holes have opened up in the Chicago Cubs’ starting rotation. Carlos Villanueva made a spot-start on Saturday, which would have been Samardzija’s turn in the rotation, but he was unlikely going to be a long term fit in that role. Every pitcher in the Triple-A rotation was qualified and considered for the spots, but only two could have been chosen. One of the pitchers selected for a promotion was Kyle Hendricks.
— ChicagoCubsOnline (@TheCCO) July 7, 2014
Beeler to start Wednesday, Hendricks to make big league debut Thursday.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) July 8, 2014
Hendricks was acquired by the Cubs in 2012 as a part of the Ryan Dempster deal, and at that point he had only made one appearance above the High-A level. Although he had been dominant during his time in the Rangers farm system, he didn’t start to turn heads until last season when he was pitching with the Double-A Tennessee Smokies. In 21 starts, Hendricks pitched to the tune of a 1.85 ERA and allowed just 26 walks in 126.1 innings. His dominant performance earned him the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.
In my prospect profile of Hendricks last month I noted that his ERA, H/9, and BB/9 numbers with Triple-A Iowa this year were “noticeably higher than his career averages.” Since that time all three of those numbers have gone down. Even with his 3.59 ERA this season, Hendricks has a career minor league ERA of 2.69. That is an incredibly impressive number.
I am very excited for Hendricks and the opportunity that he is getting. He has been very dominant in the minor leagues, and when he hasn’t, he has been able to adjust and find ways to get batters out. There will be a learning stage and he will have his struggles, but he is a very intelligent guy and he will surely be able to succeed in the majors. Hendricks will make his major league debut on Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds, and I can’t wait to see how he does.
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