The Cleveland Indians are famous for getting the most out of unheralded pitchers and Sam Hentges could be the next name to breakout.
Sam Hentges doesn’t look like he’d be a name worth mentioning in 2021 to play for the Cleveland Indians. He’s soon to be 25-years-old and hasn’t cracked Triple-A yet, but if teammate Jake Bauers is to be believed, Hentges has some nasty stuff that guys don’t want to face off with.
In a recent article from Paul Hoynes for Cleveland.com, Bauers spoke about how difficult it was facing Hentges while they played at the alternate training site. The site was MLB’s way of keeping guys on standby just in case a COVID-outbreak occurred.
Apparently playing against Hentges all those times was difficult for Bauer.
"There were some guys down there that you didn’t want to see every day, but you had to. Sam Hentges is a guy that comes to mind. That’s not a fun at-bat. But at the end of the day, seeing him 20 times in a month, I’m that much better for it."
Those are big words from Bauers. Now, you can look at Hentges numbers from his last year in the minors; where he went 2-13 and had a 5.11 ERA for Double-A Akron, but minor league numbers aren’t always the best judge. He isn’t known for his flamethrower of an arm, but his stuff does have a nice break.
His stuff is good enough that Bauers believes that Hentges will be in the mix for 2021.
"That dude is the real deal. Whether he’s going to be a starter or put him in the bullpen and let him get three outs, I think he can handle either. That dude’s the real deal and he’s going to be here soon."
Now his numbers may not impress many people. His ERA is 4.34 for his entirety in the minors. Yet, Corey Kluber had an ERA of 4.39. Kluber is one of the greatest pitchers in Indians’ history, and Hentges posted better figures so far through his minor league turn than Kluber.
That’s not to say that he’ll turn into Kluber, just a point of reference that a player is more than just his minor league stats.
It should also be noted that Kluber wasn’t a full-time Major Leaguer until he was 27, being called up in earnest at 26 and playing part of the season. Kluber was 28 when he saw any kind of individual accolades.
Hentges could turn into something special or he could be just another name passing through. Hopefully, we’ll get a better understanding of what he could be this spring training.