Playoff Prospect Retro: Kyle Kendrick
Kyle Kendrick was drafted in the seventh round in 2003, out of high school in Mount Vernon, Washington. He could have gone higher in the draft, but he had a football scholarship to play quarterback at Washington State waiting for him and this hurt his draft stock. The Phillies managed to sign him anyway. He was considered very talented but also very raw, and this showed up in rookie ball with a 5.46 ERA with a 26/12 K/BB in 31 innings, but 40 hits allowed. I gave him a Grade C, noting his arm strength and athleticism but also his rawness.
Kendrick began 2004 with Lakewood in the Sally League and was terrible, posting a 6.07 ERA with a 36/33 K/BB in 67 innings. Demoted to Batavia in the New York-Penn League in June, he continued to struggle with a 5.48 ERA and 94 hits allowed in 71 innings. I gave him a Grade C- in the book, and at the time I was very skeptical about him turning into a pitcher rather than just a thrower.
2005 brought mixed results. Again he struggled at Lakewood with a 9.13 ERA in five starts. But he did better at Batavia, with a 3.74 ERA and a 70/22 K/BB in 91 innings. I didn't put him in the 2006 for space reasons, but would have rated him as a Grade C/C-. So far he'd shown a complete inability to handle low Class A.
Things began to change in 2006. He sharpened up his slider to go with his fastball, and this time handled A-ball without problems, posting a 2.15 ERA with a 54/15 K/BB in 46 innings for Lakewood, then a 3.53 ERA in 130 innings with a 79/37 K/BB for Clearwater. I raised his grade back up to Grade C, noting that he'd made progress and was still young, but also that his home run rate was very high and his strikeout rate was below average.
The Phillies assigned Kendrick to Double-A Reading this spring. He went 4-7 but with a 3.21 ERA in 12 starts, with a 50/18 K/BB in 81 innings and 82 hits allowed. He was promoted to the majors in June and went 10-4, 3.87 with a 49/25 K/BB in 121 innings. There is no way I would have EVER thought Kendrick would win 10 major league games with a 3.87 ERA as early as 2007. He's made huge progress: remember, two years ago he was getting hammered in the Sally League.
Is it sustainable? His strikeout rate in the majors was VERY low, and he gave up quite a few homers. His control is good and he can eat innings, and I certainly respect what he did this year, but I must admit I am still skeptical about his ability to sustain this in the long run. Yes, he gets grounders, and guys like that can get away with low strikeout rates. But still. . .I suppose I am still an agnostic about Kendrick's future.