Thursday, September 15, 2011

Evaluating rotation candidates: Liam Hendriks

Anybody got a good idea there?
The Twins at this point have a lot of rotation candidates for 2012, all of whom come with question marks and some of whom will be elsewhere before spring training. One who won't be leaving the organization is Liam Hendriks, who got his second major league start Wednesday.

Hendriks' question marks are his inexperience and his unimpressive raw stuff. His positives: He's inexpensive and he appears to have what the scouts call "pitchability" -- the knack for using what he has intelligently. He's a strike-thrower.

On the face of it, Wednesday's start was a bumpy one for the 22-year-old Aussie. I didn't get to pay as much attention to the broadcast as I would have liked, but we can sum it up this way: He had three good innings and two crooked number innings, and the defense wasn't very helpful in one of the latter.

No walks in five innings is good. No homers is good. Just two strikeouts is hardly a positive. A wild pitch is a negative, but I though Joe Mauer merely tried to backhand the pitch rather than slide and block it. (Two possibilities there: Either he was lazy and used poor technique, or his legs simply won't let him move the way he needs to behind the plate.) Eighty-three pitches, 53 strikes, only 10 first pitch strikes.

What I really missed by not being able to focus on the game was hearing Tom Kelly (who was filling in for Bert Blyleven again) talk about Hendriks. TK's thoughts are of more interest to me than Blyleven's because

  • He has an actual formal role with the Twins as a talent evaluator and
  • Blyleven's "analysis" is simply white noise at this point.

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