The Chicago Cubs traded Ryan Dempster to the Texas Rangers right before the expiration of the trade deadline, receiving a pair of prospects having strong seasons in High-A: pitcher Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva. Here's a look.
Kyle Hendricks, RHP: The Rangers drafted Hendricks in the eighth round in 2011, out of Dartmouth. He had a successful pro debut last summer, posting a 1.93 ERA in 33 innings of relief for Spokane. Moving to the starting rotation this year for High-A Myrtle Beach, he's demonstrated outstanding command and control with a 112/15 K/BB ratio in 131 innings, allowing 123 hits for a 2.82 ERA.
Hendricks is 6-3, 190 pounds, born December 7, 1989. He has an average fastball in the 87-90 range, along with a curve, slider, changeup, and newly-added cutter. His command is excellent and helps make up for mediocre fastball movement, at least against A-ball hitters. He has nothing left to prove at that level, and his feel for pitching is impressive.
Christian Villanueva, 3B: The Rangers signed Villanueva as a free agent from Mexico in 2008. He broke through with a solid .276/.338/.465 line in Low-A last year, knocking 17 homers while stealing 32 bases. He's remained productive in 2012, hitting .285/.356/.421 with 10 homers, 24 walks, and 83 strikeouts in 375 at-bats for High-A Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League.
Villanueva is a 5-11, 180 pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born June 19, 1991. Primarily a line drive hitter, he'll surprise you with his home run power occasionally, although he's not likely to develop into a big masher. His swing is compact but he could stand to improve his plate discipline a bit. His defense at third base is excellent, with a strong throwing arm and the range you would expect from an ex-shortstop.
Villanueva is a fine prospect but was stuck in the Rangers system behind veteran Adrian Beltre and top prospect Mike Olt.