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Kyle Hendricks: MLB Prospects, Rookies & Call-Ups Evaluation

Recent MLB Prospect Call-Ups

Kyle Hendricks Chicago Cubs MLB NewsAfter trading away both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics, the Chicago Cubs are short on major league starting pitching for the rest of 2014. With all the hype around the Cubs stacked infield prospects, including Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and Addison Russell, their prospect pitchers can get overlooked.

Looking towards the future, the Cubbies promoted Kyle Hendricks to make his major league debut in a start before the All-Star break. The Cubs’ 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Hendricks is aiming to gain experience in the big leagues while the team is loading up their young talent for a possible upswing in the future. After Hendricks’s first start in the big leagues, what did we learn about what to expect from him for the rest of the season as a fantasy relevant starting pitcher?


Who is Kyle Hendricks

In his first major league start, Hendricks went 6.0 IP, allowing four runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking three. One of Hendricks's most touted qualities is his ability to be an innings eater. He is known to keep a low pitch count, something that's reflected in his excellent BB/9 rate in the minors, so it will be interesting to see if he's able to translate that skill to the majors.

The youngster's 2013 resume is reason for excitement. In 17 starts, he has a 10-5 record with a 3.59 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 97 K and just 23 BB over 102.2 innings. The one down side to writing about a prospect with no MLB experience is that it's a little tough to dig into the PITCHf/x data, but when looking at his minor league scouting report, he certainly comes with some question marks. First off, his fastball only tops out at 92 MPH, and averages around 89. In today’s game, that’s a clear handicap.

Yet with his control and command of his all four pitches (fastball, curveball, changeup and cutter), he more than makes up for it. With a 4.22 K/BB rate and a 23.3 K%, it's also easy to see how Hendricks could become a solid pitcher despite his lack of velocity. From an MLB standpoint, Hendricks profiles more as a back of the rotation starter, but his pitch mix and groundball tendencies will make him less prone to blow ups than your average young pitcher.


The Fantasy Baseball Impact of Kyle Hendricks

I don't necessarily expect Hendricks to make a seamless transition to the majors, and I don't recommend you should go out of your way to pick him up. But in deeper leagues, he could certainly be a decent streaming option. I can make a case for adding Hendricks over other low end SPs like Hector Santiago, Carlos Torres or Jorge De La Rosa, but those guys are only rosterable in extremely deep leagues.

Note that he could very easily be sent back down to the minors even if he has quality outings out of the gate, but the Cubs clearly are not looking at 2014 as a need-to-win season, so they might give him a long leash.  In mixed leagues as long as he's up, though, Hendricks could be valuable as a spot starter or in a two-start week, depending on the matchup.