Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/12/13

The CCO’s post-season minor league awards continue today with the Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Kris Bryant, along with James Pugliese, Corbin Hoffner, and Michael Hamann were named Short-Season Player and Pitchers of the Year on Monday.

Although there was some very good pitching at all levels in the Cubs’ system this past season, we only needed to look as far as the Tennessee Smokies for a majority of the candidates. While there were several excellent individual performances by the Smokies’ pitchers to consider, one pitcher stood out from the rest.

The CCO Minor League Pitcher of the Year – Kyle Hendricks, RHP

When the Cubs traded veteran RHP Ryan Dempster to the Rangers at the end of last July, most of the focus was on the hard-hitting, slick-fielding prospect they received in third baseman Christian Villanueva. Kyle Hendricks seemed almost like a throw-in since he did not appear on any prospect lists. Hendricks was sporting an underwhelming 5-8 record in 20 starts for High-A Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League at the time. But a deeper look at the numbers revealed that the Cubs might have landed a very good starter for two months of Ryan Dempster.

Kyle Hendricks struck out 112 batters with only 15 walks in 130.2 innings for Myrtle Beach with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP that included less hits (123) than innings pitched. Hendricks made five appearances, four starts, for Daytona after the trade and put up pedestrian numbers. In his first 17 innings in the Cubs’ system, Hendricks surrendered 17 hits with three walks and 11 strikeouts (4.24 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP). But his performance at Daytona was hardly an omen of things to come.

The Texas Rangers selected Kyle Hendricks in the eighth round of the 2011 draft. As a high school player, Hendricks’ team went 86-21 over four his years and he was 8-2 in his senior season with a 0.93 ERA that included 65 strikeouts. The Los Angeles Angels selected Hendricks in the 39th round of the 2008 draft but he chose not to sign with the Halos and enrolled in Dartmouth University. As a junior for the Big Green, Hendricks was 5-3 in nine starts, with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP that included 70 strikeouts in 82 innings.

Starting his professional career with the Short Season-A Spokane Indians, Kyle Hendricks pitched 20 games in relief and was 2-2 with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.74 WHIP that included 36 strikeouts in 32.2 innings. He also received a late season start for Double-A Frisco and gave up an earned run in three innings. Moving into a starting role in 2012, Hendricks was assigned to High-A Myrtle Beach. Hendricks was 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP (112 strikeouts) in 20 starts. The Cubs placed him at High-A Daytona following the trade. In 25 games, 24 starts, in the Rangers and Cubs’ system last year, Hendricks gave up 140 hits with 18 walks and 123 strikeouts in 147.2 innings (2.99 ERA, 1.07 WHIP).

Prior to the 2013 season, the CCO profiled Hendricks as one of the “Five Players to Watch” for the upcoming campaign, but it was not clear at the time whether the organization would have him start again at Daytona or move him up to Double-A Tennessee. The front office decided to assign him to the Smokies and Hendricks took the Southern League by storm.

Kyle Hendricks won the Southern League ERA crown (1.85 ERA) despite making his last six starts of the season at the Triple-A level. Hendricks went 10-3 in 21 starts for the Smokies with a 1.85 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. Hendricks allowed less hits (107) than innings pitched (126.1 IP) while managing nearly a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (101 strikeouts, 26 walks). Hendricks’ 101 strikeouts were good for 17th in the league. Hendricks was promoted to Triple-A Iowa on August 8, and he went 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP with 27 strikeouts, eight walks and 35 hits allowed in 40 innings.

According to scouting reports, Hendricks has a fastball that touches just above 90 mph, to go along with a curve, cutter, and change-up. He has above average command and control, and is able to use his fastball to set up hitters for his change and cutter. He has a repeatable delivery with good mechanics that give him the appearance of being effort free.

As amazing as his numbers were, Hendricks did have some competition this season, mostly among his own teammates. Fellow Tennessee starter Alberto Cabrera was leading the Southern League with 107 strikeouts when he was promoted to Iowa in mid-July. Cabrera had a 9-3 record for the Smokies and his ERA of 3.20 (1.25 WHIP) was good for eighth in the Southern League. Another Tennessee pitcher, lefty Eric Jokisch, ended up second in the Southern League with 137 strikeouts, and his 137 strikeouts was tops among all Cubs’ prospects. Jokisch had an 11-13 record with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP, plus he pitched a no-hitter on August 6. Pierce Johnson flew under the radar for the most part this year and put together a tremendous first full season in pro ball. Johnson was 5-5 in 13 starts with Kane County that included a 3.10 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP before being promoted to Daytona. Johnson was 6-1 in 10 games, eight starts, with a 2.22 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. In 118.1 innings between Kane County and Daytona, Johnson allowed 109 hits with 43 walks and 124 strikeouts. Iowa’s Brian Schlitter led the entire system with 22 saves, and 20 of those were with the I-Cubs. Schlitter posted overall ERA of 2.42 with a 1.22 WHIP that included 58 strikeouts in 63.1 innings.

Monday: The CCO’s Minor League Player of the Year

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors 

Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • cubsin

    I seriously doubt that Hendricks won 86 games in high school, particularly since he only won 8 his senior year.
    And while I agree with your pick, C.J. Edwards had an even better year, and both Edwards and Pierce Johnson are better prospects.

    • Tony_Hall

      I agree that Edwards and Johnson are better prospects, but this was for who had the best year in the Cubs minors.

      CJ Edwards
      6 GS 23 IP 1.96 ERA 0.913 WHIP

      He had a great 6 starts, not a full year with the Cubs and for this I don’t think we should count his time with the Rangers.

      86-21 would mean he started almost every game in high school over his 4 years, something must be wrong there.

    • Tom U
      • Tony_Hall

        That is his high school teams record.

        “his Capistrano Valley team was South Coast League Champions each of his four years with an overall record of 86-21”

        Most high schools are limited on how many games they can play each year. IHSA (Illinois) limit is around 35.

        • Neil

          I corrected, thank you.

          • Tom U

            Apologies for the error.

          • Neil

            No worries, thanks for an excellent report.

          • Tony_Hall

            No apologies necessary, Tom. The sheer volume of data and info that you process for all of us on a weekly basis is hard to comprehend and to be near perfect is amazing.

            Honestly, a big thank-you to you is far more in line.

            Thank-you for all that you do to provide us such in depth coverage of the Cubs minor league system!

          • Tom U

            You are very gracious Tony, Thank you,

    • Theboardrider

      Hendricks absolutely had the best year. Based on results was a no-brainer. Edwards may have turned the most heads but numbers wise, over the course of a season it isn’t even close. And until they reach the MLB we don’t know who the best prospect is. At this point Hendricks is closer to project as a future big-league all-star. I’ve said myself Edwards has a ceiling of being a Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez, but we are a long ways from knowing that. He could reach AA ball and never make it past there. Hendricks is near major league ready and based on what he has done at every level of the minor leagues it appears he is a helluva starting pitcher.

      An award like this would never be given based on MPH or measurables. It is based off of results, and Hendricks is far and away the clear choice. It isn’t fair to him to sell him short because he doesn’t drop jaws. Neither did Gred Maddux, Jamie Moyer or Tom Glavine.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I was waiting for your overwhelming praise for Hendricks! I’m curious to see what he can do on the major league level, but I don’t think will see him until mid-2013 (assuming he continues to succeed.)

        • Theboardrider

          Dang, I’m getting predictable! He deserved it. You can’t take what he has done this year away from him.

      • John_CC

        We’ve Pedro and Maddux coming up through the system together? Kidding, that would be amazing wouldn’t it? My point is that pitchers like Pedro, R Johnson, Maddux, Glavine do not come around often. In fact those are all HOF pitchers (maybe not the Unit, but you get the point). It just isn’t fair to anyone to project that kind of talent on any minor leaguer. That’s all. I do appreciate your enthusiasm though.

  • John_CC

    Good stuff Tom, thanks.

    Nice to see some light at the end of the pipeline, so to speak.

  • 07GreyDigger

    My guess is Hendricks starts the year in AAA and is the first call-up when a starter is needed.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Lets say our four starters next year are……
      One goes down…….
      You still have #4 starters like ……
      with these late inning closers…..
      and maybe……
      I think the Cubs FO will want Hendricks to build up his innings in Iowa……..maybe after July trade dead line we see Hendricks.
      If a pitcher was called up early due to injury….his name would be Dolis, Rondon or Raley.

      • 07GreyDigger

        Tanaka is a pipe dream. Ricketts doesn’t have the dollars to pay him and the posting fee.

        • Theboardrider

          Arietta could be better than a #4 last year. If Bosio can turn him around we may really have something. He was an opening day starter for the Orioles and had scouts drooling over his raw ability. IF he can increase his command he COULD be a #3 or a #2. Not saying he will get there but he has the potential.

        • John_CC

          Yeah they do. It’s not a pipe dream, this guy fits the profile.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Where do they have the money? Ricketts and Theo came out in stories lately saying the baseball side is limited thanks to renovations and debt.

          • John_CC

            Let’s hope that the Yankees and Dodgers were sold on those very public stories as well.

          • Brp921

            I won’t make any predictions, but I thought the same thing. They could be blowing smoke only to throw in a good bid in the end.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Texas Rangers motto with the last two Cubs trades has to be….
    “Fool Me Once……..Fool Me Twice…..”

    • cubtex

      I like both of those trades but tell me… are any of those players the Cubs aquired doing in the mlb? Dempster is currently pitching for a 1st place team that is favored to go to the WS and Garza should also be pitching in the playoffs if they get past the 1 game WC. So far we have minor leaguers who are still ????. Grimm is the only pitcher who has seen mlb action. Be patient grasshopper. Prospects are stil Suspects until they perform with the big boys!

      • TheWrongGuy

        Very true Ray.

      • Theboardrider

        But prospects are what we needed because we are not currently in contention. The guys we got largely contributed to us raising from a bottom 5 farm system to a top 5 farm system. Dempster has been okay for the Red Sox, Garza has been so-so for the Rangers. We have minor league all-stars which is what we wanted. In a few years these deals all may be heavily slanted our direction. But yes, based on need, the Rangers shouldn’t be dissatisfied. They got what they wanted, and we got what we wanted. Nobody was fooled, but when judged over more than half a season it will likely look like the Cubs are the big winners.

        • cubtex

          agreed. I am saying until any of these prospects do anything in the mlb….you can’t say how good a trade it was. I was thinking about some of the players around the majors who were brought up in the Cubs system. There are 4 guys who are doing pretty well so it is not like the Cubs never produced anyone.

          Still with the Cubs
          Starlin Castro

          Wellington Castillo
          Jeff Samardzija

          On other teams and are having success.

          DJ LeMahieu age 25 hitting .286

          Josh Donaldson age 27 hitting .299 21 HR and 83 RBI

          Chris Archer 24

          Andrew Cashner 27

          Those are 4 pretty good players under 27 who would all be starting for the Cubs today along with Castro,Castillo and Shark.

          • Theboardrider

            That would e a decent team and all we’d lose is Rizzo. He has similar power numbers to Donaldson but obviously the average…

          • cubtex

            Donaldson,Castro and LeMahieu would be a decent 3rd to 2nd. Who would have thought Donaldson would do what he is doing?

          • 07GreyDigger

            Nobody. That’s why you can’t really lament that trade.

            As for Lemahieu, I’ll say what I did about Cashner, home and road splits tell a better story.
            .331 home
            .242 home

            So that means he’d be hitting a little better than Barney. To me, not a big loss.

          • cubtex

            the point was to show that they produced some productive players out of their farm system.

            You are obsessed with this home and road split. What does this tell you about Anthony Rizzo then.

            Home .247
            Away .208

            So that means Barney hits better than Rizzo on the road. What does that mean to you?

          • tyty

            It means nothing bcuz those numbers are close and Wrigley is not historically helpful one side of the ball which means the split is probably more luck/coincidence than anything. SD and COL are very helpful to one side of the ball, as any baseball fan knows. To evaluate players on those teams, home/away splits simply have to be looked at.

            Can’t believe that just had to be explained.

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  • SirGladiator

    Our minor league system has an embarassment of riches. I’ve been saying for a very long time that Hendricks is the next Greg Maddux, the guy is simply incredible everywhere he pitches. If he keeps being awesome in Spring Training I’d say put him right into the rotation, although I know there’s that whole ‘wait 2 months or so and save a year’ thing they might want to do. Edwards is clearly looking like the next Pedro Martinez, no doubt about that. He’s further away so he could still hit a wall, but so far he’s just awesome. Obviously I could go on and on, Bryant, Olt, etc. etc. etc. we’ve just got one Superstar after another waiting to finish their time in the minors so they can be brought up to help us win some World Series rings! It’s nothing short of incredible how Team Theo has turned our farm system around, and in regard to that Tanaka fellow, I definitely say let’s go get him! We made a huge mistake not getting Darvish, obviously Theo was gunshy due to the Japanese dude he got in Boston not turning out so great, but everybody knew that Darvish was awesome, Theo just couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. Hopefully he learned his lesson and will pull it this time. Either way though, we are stacked in the minors, we’re flush with cash for the off-season, it looks like 2014 is the year we make the playoffs and maybe win it all!

    • Tony_Hall

      I agree in many ways, but let’s not rush Hendricks. He needs to pitch in the PCL and see how he does. He has little margin for error with his 90 MPH fastball, so to think he can be thrown into MLB already is premature. I think he is more back end of rotation with a ceiling of a 3/4. I would love for you to be right on this. But let’s not compare these guys to Hall of Fame type pitchers until they win their 1st Cy Young.

      Theo did go after Darvish, it’s not like he didn’t bid on him, but came in 2nd. 2nd doesn’t get you anything, but he did make an offer as high as he thought he was worth. No one knew for sure if Darvish would make it and be this good, for sure, just like we don’t know which of our prospects will make it, for sure.

      But what I do know is they are not counting on 1 or 2 guys to make it and turn the big league club into a World Series contender, they have depth at nearly every position that should be enough to produce enough guys to the majors. Now I think Baez, Almora, Bryant and Soler are near sure things and I would put them in that order for how confident I am they will make it.

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