If the Cubs are going to get back to being National League contenders, they're going to need impact pitching. But where will those arms come from?
Baseball America identified C.J. Edwards (No. 28) and Pierce Johnson (No. 87) on its Top 100 prospects list released this week. Kyle Hendricks hasn't drawn the same attention – even though he’s the organization’s reigning minor league pitcher of the year – but that’s perfectly fine by him.
[Prospect Watch: Pierce Johnson making Cubs take notice]
"I don't really think about it. I don't really care, to be honest," Hendricks said. "I'd rather fly under the radar, just do my own thing. I just have to work hard and do what I can do."
Hendricks doesn't have Edwards’ eye-popping stuff or Johnson’s first-round pedigree. But the 24-year-old right-hander has a resume that’s been opening eyes in the minors.
The Texas Rangers selected Hendricks in the eighth round of the 2011 draft and packaged him in the Ryan Dempster deal a year later. He split last season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, going 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and only 34 walks in 27 overall starts.
The Southern California native will begin this season in Des Moines. But if he continues to pitch like that, Hendricks could be one phone call away when the Cubs need reinforcements at Wrigley Field.
"You're always thinking about [that]," he said. "You always want to make it, but you can't think about it every second or else you're not going to get anywhere. You have to work on what you need to work on, day in and day out, and then you'll get there."
Hendricks is scheduled to start Wednesday’s intrasquad scrimmage opposite Eric Jokisch. Hendricks is ready to make an impression after a "whirlwind" offseason that included completing his coursework at Dartmouth College, earning an economics degree with a minor in math.
"We're trying to institute a winning way here," Hendricks said. "It obviously hasn't been that way in the past, so it's going to be up to me and the young guys here to change everything that's been going on."
Hendricks has seen The Cubs Way up close, playing with some of the other names on the Baseball America list, like infielders Javier Baez (No. 5) and Arismendy Alcantara (No. 100). Hendricks said he definitely gets the sense the Cubs have something special brewing.
"There's so much talent in this group," Hendricks said. "It's incredible to be a part of this."