Without a minor league season in 2020, some players were lucky enough to be able to participate at their organization’s alternate site as a part of the 60-man player pool. Ryan Hendrix was added to the 40-man roster in November of 2019 and spent the 2020 spring with the big leaguers until March 10th when he was optioned to the minors. A few days later spring training was shut down and for the next three months teams wouldn’t be playing any sort of baseball. But Summer Camp or Spring Training 2.0 or whatever you want to call it began in July, and that ultimately led to the regular season and the alternate site where Hendrix was invited to continue his development and possibly be called up if the team deemed him ready and a spot were needed.
A spot never did open up for Ryan Hendrix in the big leagues last year. But he was able to take advantage of his time at Prasco Park to continue his development, and even picked up a new pitch.
“Commanding the fastball,” said Hendrix about what he worked on in 2020. “And obviously throwing the breaking ball for strikes. I also developed a change up while there. I threw it a few times and it played out well. It’s just something to have if the breaking ball isn’t working it’s something I can have in my back pocket to throw to the guys.”
For Hendrix, a third pitch could really make a difference. Already armed with a fastball that’s in the mid-to-upper 90’s and a hammer breaking ball, a third look for batters to think about really puts them at a disadvantage.
Working with now assistant pitching coach Eric Jagers and having easy access to the data and video quickly was quite helpful for Hendrix last year.
“Yes, he was a big help for me,” said Hendrix. “Being able to see all the data after the games and seeing what my ball does during bullpens and knowing exactly what to fix immediately was very, very helpful. Him knowing the pitch shaping. He picks up things so quick. So if I have a mechanical flaw, he’s on it that next pitch – he’s like ‘okay do this’. It’s like immediate feedback. That’s what I like about Eric. He knows the game so well, and he’s studied it so hard that he knows as soon as something’s wrong, he’s on it.”
In his minor league career, Hendrix has been dominant. He’s posted a career ERA of 2.55 in 132 games and struck out 234 batters in 172.2 innings. Throwing strikes is the main area where he could improve – his career walk rate of four per 9-innings pitched isn’t great. Some guys can get away with that rate in the Major Leagues if they also tend to miss bats at a very high rate – which Hendrix has in the minors. But, it’s an area that you want to see an improvement on, and as he mentioned on Wednesday, an area that he was specifically working on.
We’ll have to wait a few more days to see him on the mound again. He’s currently dealing with a slight intercostal muscle strain, but he’s said he only expects to be out a few days and he’s throwing on flat ground and will go from there.