Cubs Mailbag: Pitcher Kyle Hendricks

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks was the team's minor league pitcher of the year last season after going a combined 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA at Double and Triple-A.

Despite that success he’s still not listed among the top 10 Cubs prospects by either Baseball America or ESPN.com. He’s a longshot to make the team out of spring training but could be the first recall from the minors when they need a starter.

He was acquired by the Cubs from the Texas Rangers in the deal that sent them Ryan Dempster in 2012. He answers your questions in this spring training mailbag:

Kyle, I see you as a top-of-the-rotation starter. Most don't, because I think you don't throw 95, but do you see yourself being a Greg Maddux-type pitcher who can be the #1 guy with your pitching prowess? -- Jole (Salem, Il.)

KH: Yeah, he was my idol growing up -- that’s what I try to live up to. I don’t have the raw stuff other guys have. I’ve had to rely on other modes of getting guys out. I’ll just try to be the best I can be and see where it gets me.

Kyle, you had a terrific season last year both in Double-A and Triple-A. How do you feel/respond when people don't even count you as one of the top prospects and don't consider you as a big part in the Cubs' future? (I certainly think that they are wrong.) -- Sam (Chicago)

KH: All I can focus on is what I can control, which is getting better every day. I really can’t focus on what people say.

Kyle, Chicago is famous for its pizza, hot dogs, and Italian beef. Have you ever had any of these yet? Have you ever visited Wrigley Field? I can’t wait to see you there!! -- Lawrence (Ft. Myers, Fla.)

KH: I went to Wrigley Field for the first time this offseason. I loved every second of it. I did have some deep-dish pizza. It was to die for. I’ve been craving it ever since I had it. The other stuff I didn’t have a chance to eat. Hopefully this year if I’m up there.

Which player in MLB do you want to strike out the most? -- Jimmy (Champaign, Ill.)

KH: Ha. I’d rather get 21 ground balls in a game than strike someone out to be honest. No one comes to mind. I haven’t been in the big leagues yet.

Do you feel that being a Dartmouth grad will allow you to outsmart most hitters? -- Henry (Morris, Ill.)

KH: I don’t think it translates directly like that, but I guess it can’t hurt. I guess just critical thinking. Maybe being able to think on your feet and make adjustments quick. I think that education has helped me.

Kyle, what was the first thing that went through your mind when you heard that you were traded to the Cubs, a team that obviously wasn't in a position to win in the near future. -- Mark (Chicago)

KH: That wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. I was thrown really off guard. I wasn’t in trade talks at the time. It kind of blindsided us.

Hi Kyle, what do you consider to be your "out" pitch and what are your goals heading into this season? -- Matt (Glen Ellyn, Ill.)

KH: My out pitch is probably my change-up. That’s my go-to. As for my goals, just get better every day.

What current player do you emulate on the mound? -- Griffin (Chandler, Ariz.)

KH: I would have to say Jake Peavy. I always liked him. He used to play for the Padres. About an hour away from my hometown. Just loved the way he would compete on the mound. I really looked up to that.

I looked you up on Baseball Reference, and one statistic that truly stands out is your WHIP -- in the MLB, your cumulative WHIP would have been seventh in the league, ahead of some of the game's best (Adam Wainwright, Jordan Zimmermann, Zack Greinke, etc.) Is this something you consciously strive to maintain? -- Raj (Durham, N.C.)

KH: Yeah, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio are important to me. Not so much for striking guys out, but not walking guys is important for me.

K-man, which was harder for you, Micro or Macro? (He'll know what I'm talking about) --Tom (Porter, Texas)

KH: Definitely Macro (economics) was harder for me. I don’t know why, it’s just a mindset. Micro is more math based, that’s kind of how my mind works so Micro was pretty easy for me going through it, but Macro was tougher, for sure.