Frustrated by Ben Hendrickson’s ability to thrive in Triple-A but inability to succeed in the majors, the Brewers gave up trying to figure him out on Tuesday. Milwaukee traded him to pitching-needy Royals for minor league catcher Maxim St. Pierre.
The Big Leaguers
A 26-year-old righthander, Hendrickson quickly became one of the Brewers’ top pitching prospects after signing as a 10th-rounder out of a Minnesota high school in 1999. He was the Triple-A International League pitcher of the year in 2004 and has gone 26-23, 3.56 at that level over the last three seasons. But in an extended big league trial in 2004 and a brief stint last year, he has gone just 1-10, 7.41 in 14 games (12 starts). His best pitch is his plus curveball, but he has used it too much in the majors and hasn’t been able to establish either his fringy fastball or his changeup in the big leagues. Hendrickson will open 2007 at Triple-A Omaha.
St. Pierre, 26, was a 27th-round pick out of a Montreal high school in 1997 and spent 10 years in the Tigers system before joining the Royals as a minor league free agent in January. He’s a solid defender with a strong arm, but his suspect bat has kept him from reaching the majors. He hit a personal-worst .202/.255/.304 with three homers and 31 RBIs in 78 games at Triple-A Toledo in 2006, and he owns career averages of .254/.323/.352 in 762 contests. He’ll add depth in the upper levels of the Brewers system but isn’t expected to contribute in Milwaukee.
Royals GM Dayton Moore continues to pick up pitching possibilities at little cost. Hendrickson isn’t a sure thing, but it’s certainly worth seeing what he can do with a change of scenery.