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kyle hendricks iowa cubsBaseball Prospectus has concluded it’s extremely interesting “Top Tools” series, which looked at prospects throughout baseball with some of the best individual tools. Cubs prospects showed up in force throughout the series, including PowerMakeupInfield Defense, and Outfield Defense.

If you notice something missing, it’s probably something you expected: all of those tools belong to position players. Of course the pitching-bereft Cubs system has no top pitching tools.

Actually! Yes, the Cubs have a pitching prospect with one of the top pitching tools in all of the minors: Kyle Hendricks.

The 24-year-old righty, whom the Cubs picked up from the Rangers in 2012, has the best command in the minors, according to Baseball Prospectus. On the top man, Hendricks:

It’s difficult to find minor-league pitchers with true command, a skill that comes with experience and polish, but Hendricks has it in spades. Hendricks displays exceptional command of his entire arsenal, particularly his fastball, which he moves around the zone with ease. His knack for hitting spots and even moving the ball outside of the strike zone at will has enabled him to become a more highly regarded prospect than his raw stuff would suggest, and it might be enough to carry him to the big leagues.

More than just the ability to throw strikes, command is more like the ability to throw all of your pitches where you want to throw them when you want to throw them. It should be no surprise, then, that the top all-time command tool goes to Greg Maddux. (That doesn’t mean you should start comparing Hendricks to Maddux, who had better natural stuff and had already reached the big leagues by the time he was 20. Maddux is among the best five pitchers in baseball history. Just let that be.)

Hendricks figures to head to AAA this year after being the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2013, posting a 2.00 ERA over 166.1 innings split between AA and AAA, with a very nice 3.76 K/BB ratio. Although he doesn’t project to be a stud in the big leagues, most believe he does have a big league future, even if only at the back of the rotation. Having superlative command, as BP indicates he has, can only help.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    This really does not surprise me at all. He still has to prove he can get out hitters at the highest level, but a projection of 200+ inning number four or five starter seems fairly reasonable at this stage.

    • MattyNomad

      *insert absurd Maddux comparison here*

      All sarcasm aside, I really like this guy. I have something of a complex that I’ve developed for underdogs (gee, wonder where that came from). But I really enjoyed watching him last season, and on top of that, he’s a standup guy. Got to speak with him quite a while at CubsCon this year seeing as though people were completely avoiding his autograph line in favor of Johnson/Jokisch. Even stopped in at the Smokies booth and it was damn near 20 minutes before anybody passing even noticed who he was (teenage girl wanted to buy his shirzey). Really felt bad for the guy.

      • http://BleacherNation blewett

        I got his autograph and spoke with him at CubsCon, too. I agree- very likeable young man. All my baseballs already had a signature, so I asked him who he wanted to share one with. He said “Pierce Johnson- he’s going to be a stud!”

  • Edwin

    I feel like every single minor league pitcher who lacks stuff but has command is doomed to the Maddux comparison for a long time, especially Cubs prospects.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      I think every pitcher that shows great command of their pitches will be compared to Maddux. Just like every second baseman with power potential will be compared to Ryno. Third baseman to Santo. Outfielders to Williams. Team leaders to Banks, etc.

    • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

      Especially because, when Maddux came up, he had really good stuff.

  • Kyle

    That’s much more encouraging than other reports I’ve read on him. Excellent.

    • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

      It’d be interesting to see if there are biases with current and former Texas prospects in the BP reports considering Jason Parks’ connection to Texas. Not an indictment, just a thought.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      He’s got decent movement on that fastball as well.

      Hendricks is one case of a pitcher who really does look better in person than he does on the stat sheet. All to often in the minors it is the other way around.

      • Edwin

        He got very good GB rates in the minors, right?

      • JacqueJones

        Thats weird because his stat sheet looks amazing

  • Featherstone

    We really need to trade with the Rangers more often. If Hendricks even becomes a serviceable 5th starter for a few years the trade becomes a huge win. If Villanueva does anything in the majors or is traded off later for something else of need that’s just gravy.

  • Jon

    He’ll be pitching in Wrigley by July.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If an opening emerges, possibly. I don’t think he’s on the 40 man yet, so he may not be the first choice, but I think he gets a shot this season sometime.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Interesting article today in st Louis about top prospect Oscar taveras, and perhaps a lesson in putting high expectations on young kids.
    He basically has not yet played in spring training due to anxiety about getting hurt and not being able to perform up to what has been predicted. For what its worth, I was told by some folks in Memphis he was a huge prima donna there last season when he played.

    • C. Steadman

      I’m selfish and as a Cubs fan i hope he either busts as a Cardinal or succeeds after the Cardinals dump him(preferably to an AL team whose nickname isnt based off an artically of clothing i own)

      • C. Steadman

        article**

    • Jon

      thanks for the heads up..here’s is the link to the article

      http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-oscar-taveras-testing-cards-patience/article_73bb5a90-0c25-5a3e-9bd6-c8afbca9c06a.html

      I loved reading every minute of it. He does sound like diva, take some Xanex buddy.

      • JB88

        Man, I could have sworn I read this same article about two years ago, only about Derrick Rose and the Bulls …

    • Mike Moody

      Interesting. Not sure if it’s true one way or another, but one of the things I like best about Baez is his makeup. No fear at all in that kid and a willingness to do whatever his coaches tell him if it means he can make the majors.

    • SenorGato

      This is just another thing to make me believe the sunshine and lollipops days are coming to a close for the Cardinals. Of course patience is still required but I just don’t fear that franchises supposed super perfect blend of talent. Its such a corny concept in the first place…perfect…suck it. /endbabbling

      • CubsFaninMS

        Well, last year their team BA with RISP was just insane (what, .340?). If they can repeat a year like that, we need to find out what’s in that recipe. It’s highly unlikely they can repeat that performance, though. It’s highly probably that the Cardinals will be good next year, but I would predict that their run production takes a hit.

  • Mike Moody

    How come the Cubs can never develop someone like Greg Maddux? Oh, wait…

    • Cubsin

      I’m not at all convinced that the Cubs did develop Maddux. I suspect he did it mostly on his own.

      • half_full_beer_mug

        I’m not convinced that ever has developed . I think they did that pretty much on their own based on their talent, drive, and will.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          well the “less than” and “greater than” symbols don’t seem to work.

          I’m not convinced that (insert team name) ever have developed (insert name of Hall of Famer)

      • JacqueJones

        I think he emerged from the womb with the ability to hit an ant from 60 feet away with a baseball

  • rob

    Even a 4/5 starter is very valuable, since he could throw 500-600 serviceable innings while making about $400K/year – leaves money to be spent elsewhere. This is a good thing.

  • SenorGato

    I figure he’ll help whether it be a trade or as a surprising rotation stalwart for a few years. He seems like a competent pitcher who just doesn’t throw as hard as the day and age might call for.

  • Funn Dave

    Best command in the minors….I’m just gonna let that sink in for a bit….Ahh, that’s the stuff….

    • C. Steadman

      …Hostess!

    • ruby2626

      Wasn’t CJ Edwards voted minor league pitcher of the year by some publication. Combine him with Mike Olt, Grimm and Ramirez and boy we need to do more deals with Texas. Perhaps no more trades withTampa Bay, they are probably laughing at Chris Archer for Garza at this point.

      • CubsFaninMS

        Here’s how the Garza transactions shook out…

        We lose several years of control for Robinson Chorizo, Chris Archer, Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer, and Hak Ju Lee.

        We gain 2.5 years of controls of Garza and several years of control of Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, C.J. Edwards, and Justin Grimm.

        Still an open book… but that is certainly capable of being a favorable outcome for us.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          Still amazes me how people view that trade as a negative.

          In 10 years I’m going to guess that the Cubs win huge on the cumulative major league results of that trade. So far they’ve got a big head start as well.

          • C. Steadman

            of these sequences of these two trades this is how i rate the teams Cubs>Rays…………………………………>Rangers

            • Bric

              Okay you guys realize that Archer was named rookie of the year last year in the NL East, right? Garza gave us a couple injury filled question mark years and never produced anything near his hype.

              A couple of years ago on this site I started wondering when the Cubs became the Pirates of the last 20 years. Reading these comments I now understand there was no reason to pity those fans because we’re just as bad. News Flash- this team doesn’t need any more *possible 4th or 5th starters*. Years of control, ceilings, up sides, and all this other stuff only matters to teams that have no present talent.

              The Rays and Rangers will compete this year and the Cubs probably won’t. Stop trying to justify in your own minds this reality. The Cubs may not have gotten totally rooked in any of these deals but there is certainly no reason to rank them above either of these teams in the major league category, the only one that matters to me. IMHO.

          • Jon

            Imagine if they would have just taken McNutt vs Archer. Damn Rays!

  • Blackhawks1963

    I like Hendricks. He’s got good potential to settle in as a good back of rotation starter who takes the ball every 5th day and contributes. That’s a valued commodity. A younger Edwin Jackson if you will.

    • Edwin

      I always figured he was similar to a Randy Wells.

      • Blackhawks1963

        Good comp. Though the league figured out Wells after a couple years and he was out of the league. I’m hoping for a bit more out of Hendricks.

      • SenorGato

        Wells works as a decent comp but I think little things will give Hendricks a shot to last a little longer. A little bigger, better secondaries…generally a more polished talent.

        • Edwin

          Wells actually had a great slider, it was his fastball that let him down.

          I don’t think Hendricks is every going to be a great K guy, so I think it really depends on how well he’s able to generate GB, and how well he’s able to nibble at the strike zone without getting pounded.

    • SenorGato

      No offense to Hendricks but Jackson entered the big leagues as a super future ace of the super future. He doesn’t have that kind of arm.

      He seems more like an arm that would come out of the Twins system during the 2000s. Nothing special stuff wise but tons of control, command, good makeup, and a quality athlete with at least average size.

  • C. Steadman

    I currently live in chicago, but i need to make some trips back home and catch an I-Cubs game before they graduate most of that team

  • JakeMac

    Luke, any update on your Top 40 or farm-system breakdown by position?

  • Diehardthefirst

    Here’s a good example of the flaw in the Plan- this kid is ready now for bigs and before teams develop a book on his stuff- once here in 2014 he can stay one step ahead by refining his stuff against MLB hitters- another year in minors is meaningless

    • half_full_beer_mug

      It would probably more of a short story at this point.

  • Darth Ivy

    I love thinking about Maddux as a top 5 pitcher of all time, and maybe he is. Just think about these names. These are in no particular order, although I wouldn’t mind getting into a rankings discussion

    3 finger brown
    Cy Young
    Sandy Koufax
    Bob Gibson
    Lefty Grove
    Walter Johnson
    Randy Johnson
    Pedro Martinez (I know, I know. Lots of debate over that)
    Whitey Ford
    Ted Lilly

    • C. Steadman

      haha i like the Ted Lilly addition…also baseball has so many different eras and players since its been around since the 1800s that its completely impossible to hash out a top 5 list and agree it to anyone elses…although Bob Feller should be added to that list

      • C. Steadman

        **to your list, I’m not even going to attempt a Top 5 alltime pitchers list

      • Darth Ivy

        That’s the point I was going for, that it might be impossible to even determine who the top 5 guys are/were.

        • C. Steadman

          i certainly dont even want to do a Top 5, i could maybe do a top 10 and I even wouldnt be happy with my own top 10…i’d probably end up favoring pitchers ive seen in my lifetime since the 90s till now(Maddux, Johnson, Ted Lilly)

      • Edwin

        I think the change in the mound height made a pretty big impact.

        • Darth Ivy

          I bet another underrated (or at least not talked about enough) factor was the integration. Possibly the best every could’ve been Satchel Paige.

    • JB88

      I recognize that WAR is not the end-all-be-all discussion point, but from a strictly WAR perspective, Maddux is the No. 4 pitcher of all time, falling behind only Clemens (1), Cy Young (2), and Walter Johnson (3). The crazy thing is how many pitchers from the 80’s forward are on the top twenty five list. It is worth a gander …

      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=y&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=1871&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&players=0

      • Darth Ivy

        nice. I’ve never even heard of Blyleven.

        • Fishin Phil

          Crap, I am so old.

        • cubfanincardinalland

          One of the greatest curve balls of all time. Or as Chris Berman called him, Bert be home by eleven!

          • Voice of Reason

            Berman and Dick Vitale need to be sent on an island far, far away so we never have to hear them again.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Agreed eventually the Berman bit was old in the 90’s and he’s still trying to keep it going, and Dicky V has always been annoying. It was the start and downfall of sports TV and now it’s all about the bit and how can tell louder.

      • Darth Ivy

        Interesting stat: Out of pitchers with 1000+ IP, the #2 K/9 pitcher of all time is Kerry Wood at 10.32 only behind Randy Johnson at 10.61. BTW, Prior had a higher K/9 but only 657 IP. The all time leader of K/9 is Rob Dibble at 12.17…..whoa, Marmol comes in at #5 with 11.66! David Robertson #4, Darvish #6

        Oh, and guess which team has the luckiest pitcher of all time (BABIP)? You guessed it….

        Cy Young has 7354.2 IP. WTF?

        Just thought those were interesting stats

        • Edwin

          When you use K% instead of K/9, Randy Johnson comes in at 1st with 28.5, Pedro 2nd at 27.7, and Wood 3rd at 27.1. K/9 can sometimes be misleading because it doesn’t take into account the number of batters a pitcher faces.

          What’s interesting about Pedro is that he was basically a finesse pitcher from 2002 on, but still had a high K% throughout that time.

          • Darth Ivy

            Being #3 sucks. You’re either in the top 2 or youre last….

            • cubfanincardinalland

              Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is your fired.

  • Rudy N

    TRADE FOR ALL THE RANGERS PROSPECTS!!!

    Seriously though we have gotten the minor league pitcher of the year, the minor’s best defensive 3B man, the top command tool and Mike Olt who looks to possibly be on his way back to his top prospect status from a year ago. Oh, and Grimm and Ramirez just for good measure, haha.

    Who will we trade to them this year for another fleecing?

  • CubsFaninMS

    Ermrrrgrrrdd, go Kyle Henddrux!!

    All joking aside, you mentioned in a previous article Brett that it is easy for us avid Cub fans to blow up our prospects in our head to a point where it is diffuculty to have a valid expectation of each prospect’s toolset. When comparing them to other prospects in the MiLB, it’s very refreshing to see that the tools some of our prospects have are clearly as good or better than some of us realized.

  • WI Jeff

    Hendricks didn’t have his control yesterday during his start. Looked mechanical, that must be his deception. He had josh red docks number, but B Moss hit him hard.

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