Profile: RHP - 6'1" - 200lbs - BT:R - TH:R - 2011 Age: 22
• FB 90-92: Plus location, solid/average movement (50-55)
• SL 82-83: Plus location, lacks ideal movement. (50-55)
• CV 77-78: Not as well commanded as other offering, will get loopy. (35-45)
• CH 80-82: Plus location, good differential, doesn't get ideal depth. (45-50)
Hendriks is just one result of the Twins extensive scouting efforts in Australia, a country who's talent the Twins have exploited far more than any other team in baseball (they have a number of Australian's scattered throughout their farm system). Signed as a Minor League free agent, he underwent two different surgeries shortly after his debut, one on his knee and one on his back that caused him to miss the entire 2008 season. He'd return in 2009 at 19 years old looking almost completely unaffected.
If the Twins prefer to draft/sign pitchers who know how to throw strikes, then in Hendriks they've found their anointed one. Over the past decade the team has developed a number of pitchers who won't blow you away with their stuff, but know how to attack the zone and have turned them into capable starting pitchers. Hendriks follows in that mold.
On the mound Hendriks motion is clean and both highly polished and repeatable. He'll attack hitters with his fastball aggressively with his 90-92 mph fastball. The pitch has good movement and can induce ground balls, though he probably profiles as more of a ground ball neutral pitcher at the MLB level than a true ground ball pitcher.
Of his off-speed offerings, I prefer the slider. The pitch doesn't have ideal break and as such, doesn't profile as a big swing-and-miss pitch but it's very tight rotation and late break still make it a difficult pitch for hitters to square up. The fact that he can throw it through a key-hole should allow him to use to paint for his strikeouts while keeping hitters off balance. He also shows good feel for his changeup though like his slider, it doesn't profile as a big swing and miss pitch.
The numbers really do tell the story with Hendriks. His career 1.5BB/9 rate is exceptional and it's not a fluke of any sort, it's been replicated across all levels and stems from one of the most repeatable and low-effort, almost apologetic deliveries you'll see. He's also been able to paint corners against lesser competition, though we've seen a steady decline in his K rate as he's climbed through the levels and at his best, you'd think a 6 K/9 rate would be his MLB peak.
Even without ideal strikeout stuff, Hendriks ability to paint corners with his fastball, induce ground balls and not hurt himself with walks will almost certainly make him a MLB commodity of some sort. That ability to combine three skills at at least league average levels helps make him very projectable.
He's going to be a MLB pitcher, of that I can pretty much assure you, and I think a pretty decent one with the upside of being a #3 type starer and at worst, a #4.
Corey Ettinger is a Senior Writer for Baseball Digest as well as a proud contributor to both 612Sports.net, 312Sports.com, and 313sports.com. He also provides extensive analysis of the American League Central Division at his own blog, AL Central In Focus. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @Coreyettinger for the latest updates, random thoughts and general tomfoolery.