Since being called up to pitch for the Chicago Cubs on July 10, former Big Green pitcher Kyle Hendricks ’12 has grabbed four straight wins, most recently a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on Monday. Hendricks has amassed a 5-1 record and 1.66 ERA.
Though he was not included in top prospect rankings and has a slower pitching speed, Dartmouth baseball coach Bob Whalen said that Hendricks’s innate understanding of the game has helped him succeed.
“You can work hard and be a grinder and all that stuff, and those things make a difference, but you have to have the ability to compete at the highest level of the game, and he certainly has that,” Whalen said.
During his time at the College, Hendricks prepared for each game to outthink the batters he was facing said Chad Piersma ’13, who used to catch for Hendricks at Dartmouth.
“If you can imagine all the effort he put into the combination of baseball and school, and then put that all into just baseball, you can obviously see what has come from him,” Piersma said. “It’s amazing how people just take off sometimes.”
In Hendricks’s July 10 debut against the Cincinnati Reds, he allowed four runs, three of which were in his first inning. Since then, he has allowed only six more runs. On Monday’s game, he gave up three hits and a run.
Dartmouth third baseman said Nick Lombardi ’15 said that while watching the July 10 game, he noticed the umpire squeezing Hendricks’s strike zone and tweeted to the umpire about it.
“I was all fired up,” Lombardi said. “I love seeing our guys get to the next level. It’s pretty cool to see a guy you actually know pretty well getting to pitch in the big leagues.”
Big Green pitcher Duncan Robinson ’16, who attended Hendricks’s first game, said that part of his skill is effectively working with his teammates.
“He gets a lot of ground balls and double plays and he just doesn’t try to do too much, and just lets his team do the work,” Robinson said.
During his time at the College, Hendricks helped bring the Big Green two Ivy League championships in 2009 and 2010, as well as earning First-Team All-Ivy recognition and being named Dartmouth’s pitcher of the year in 2011.
Second baseman Thomas Roulis ’15 said that despite his high skill-level and level of recognition, Hendricks did not treat the other players on the team any differently.
Whalen said that Hendricks always put the team first, even before his potential professional career.
“His teammates loved him and the coaches all respected him because he was a team-first guy, despite the fact that his talent was certainly indicative of one of the best players we’ve had,” he said.
Lombardi said that Hendricks was a helpful resource for advice.
“As a guy, he was really respectable, he was always hanging out with us even though he was drafted,” he said. “Personality wise, he was a great dude, always would talk to you and help you out if you ever had a question to ask him about who to talk to or what to do from a baseball standpoint.”
Roulis said that having a recent graduate of the program play in the majors and having success could mean increased visibility for Dartmouth’s program. Hendricks follows Ed Lucas ’04, who joined the Miami Marlins in 2013 after 10 seasons in the minor leagues.
“It shows that there’s talent out there and that a lot of guys in the Ivy League can play with big league prospects in all the SEC and other big time conference schools,” he said.
The level of coaching that Big Green players receive may have impacted Hendricks’s success, Robinson said.
“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “Just seeing a guy like us from Dartmouth pitch at the highest level of this game was pretty incredible.”
Hendricks was drafted in 2011 by the Texas Rangers in the eighth-round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft and was traded to the Chicago Cubs in July 2012. Hendricks returned to Dartmouth for his senior fall and winter before heading out to play in the spring, and then finished his Dartmouth career in the fall of 2013.
In the minors, Hendricks was recognized as the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2013 and started the 2014 season for the Cubs’ affiliated Triple-A team, the Iowa Cubs before being called up to Chicago. In 102.2 innings pitched at the Triple-A level this year, Hendricks posted a 10-5 record and a 3.59 ERA.
Due to his game schedule, Hendricks was unavailable for comment by press time.