The Minnesota Twins signed the Australian born Liam Hendriks as an 18-year old in February 2007. Hendriks started his pro career in the Gulf Coast league in 2007 and did pretty well putting up a 4-2 record with a 2.08 ERA but in those 10 starts he only threw 44 innings. Hendriks missed the 2008 season with back surgery but ended up making the Australian team as their youngest player in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. In 2009 Hendriks spent time in Elizabethton and Beloit and put up an unspectacular 5-5 record with a 3.51 ERA with 14 starts in 83.2 innings. Hendriks started the 2010 season in Beloit but after a strong start was moved up to Ft. Myers where he pitched well once again and was named to play in the 2010 Futures game but an appendicitis forced him to miss the game. Liam started the 2011 season in New Britain and was 8-2 when he was promoted to Rochester where he struggled going 4-4 with a 4.56 ERA which was a full run higher than he had ever experienced at any level in the Twins system. The Twins called Hendriks up for a September cup of coffee after the 2011 minor league season ended and gave him four starts in which he was 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA. After the 2011 season the Twins named Liam Hendriks their Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 2012 Hendriks earned a starting job in spring training but just four poor starts later found himself in Rochester where he posted a very nice 2.20 ERA in 106+ innings. In 2013 Hendriks again found himself splitting time between Minnesota and Rochester but this time he had a poor season in AAA posting a 4.67 ERA in 98+ innings.
That brings us up todate on Hendriks career. The question is what should be done with Hendriks now. Let’s take a comparison look at how Hendriks compare to another former Twins starter that ended up with a 63-48 record in almost 1,000 innings in a Twins uni. Pitcher X is no longer with the Twins and he struggled pretty mightily as he tried to become a major league pitcher. I remember pitcher X early in his Twins career and after some of his bad outings I thought to myself that there is no hope for this guy and he has no business in the major leagues. The Twins organization however was more patient then I would have been and pitcher X turned out to be a pretty good albeit not great pitcher for the Twins before he left the organization. I am not saying that Hendriks and pitcher X have identical pitching styles because they don’t, I am just comparing the stats of pitcher X after 26 starts in his first two big league seasons to the 30 starts that Hendriks has on his resume after his first three big league seasons. The comparisons are not that much different. Pitcher X was drafted out of college and Hendriks came from Australia where he had much less experience pitching against good hitting.
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Looking at their career minor league stats, Hendriks has thrown 580.1 innings allowed 540 hits, a 2.99 ERA, a WHIP of 1.108 and 487 strike outs. The per 9 inning rates are 7.6 KO/9 and 8.4 H/9. The minor league stats for pitcher X are 524 innings with 477 hits allowed, a 3.16 ERA, a WHIP of 1.116 and 431 strike outs which comes out to 7.4 KO/9 and 8.2 H/9. The numbers are fairly similar. So who is pitcher X? Pitcher X is Scott Baker.
So what would I do with Hendriks? In my old age I have learned to show a bit more patience then I would have in years past. There are no guarantees in life but when you sign a pitcher from Australia and you have had him in your system for seven years and he just turns 25 years of age when spring training opens, you would be a fool not to keep him and give him a solid shot at winning a spot in the 2014 pitching rotation. It’s not like the Twins will be fighting for a playoff spot in 2014 so this might well be the type of year that you throw this guy into the deep end and allow him to show us what he really is. Put him at the end of your rotation, keep the stress level down and maybe the Twins can add a home-grown pitcher to their starting rotation.