The Cleveland Indians are known for running a successful “pitching factory” throughout the organization.
Players like Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco are all gone, but young players are ready to step in and take their place.
One name to keep an eye on in 2021 is that of Sam Hentges.
He is someone who did not get any game action in 2020 because of the canceled minor league season.
But he did get to spend the summer in Lake County at the team’s alternate site.
Jake Bauers even hyped up the young man’s talent.
#Indians 1B Jake Bauers raved about LHP Sam Hentges, who he faced a lot last year.
“That dude is the real deal,” Bauers said, “and he’s going to be here soon.” pic.twitter.com/z9gkxdxWod
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) February 26, 2021
Hentges is yet another example of the pitching talent waiting for an opportunity.
Who is Sam Hentges?
Hentges is a former fourth-round pick of the Indians back in 2014.
The 6-foot-6 southpaw has been a starter throughout his professional career and last pitched in 2019 with the Akron RubberDucks.
He finished with an ugly 2-13 record and 5.11 ERA, but the positives remains.
Hentges’ size and velocity make him an exciting player to watch.
#Indians LHP Sam Hentges already hitting 96mph on the strikeout. Pitchers usually build up velocity as spring goes on. Was hitting 100 mph last spring.
— Indians Prospective (@indiansPro) February 28, 2021
That type of arm strength makes him an intriguing option out of the bullpen in 2021.
The backend of the starting rotation already has a robust competition and doesn’t have room for someone who hasn’t pitched in a game since 2019.
Can Hentges Stick in the Bullpen?
The Indians are in no rush to bring up Hentges to the majors.
He is 24 years old and the organization may prefer to save his service time for when there is a full-time starting job open for him.
Manager Terry Francona addressed the situation and also mentioned he would like Hentges to start.
#Indians manager Terry Francona with more praise for LHP Sam Hentges. Team would prefer to keep him as a starter, but understands he could be bullpen option. pic.twitter.com/PLuAHvVhbp
— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) March 1, 2021
A great scenario for both sides would be bringing Hentges up later in the season and sticking him in the bullpen.
He could finally make his MLB debut and see if a bullpen job is actually the best fit.
Opposing batters won’t exactly have an easy time facing off against a 6-foot-6 left-hander who throw up near 100 miles per hour.
Hentges made his spring debut Sunday and picked up the save with a clean inning of work against the Cincinnati Reds.
He did allow a walk, but had two strikeouts and shut the door for the 5-1 victory.
The one thing that could hold Hentges back, aside from service time concerns, is another competition brewing in the bullpen.
James Karinchak, Emmanuel Clase, and Nick Wittgren are assured jobs.
After that you have veterans such as Blake Parker and Bryan Shaw who could both stick on the Opening Day roster.
And let’s not forget about Adam Plutko, Cam Hill, Cam Quantrill, Oliver Perez, and the list goes on.
The one way for Hentges to eventually get called up later this year is to dominate when he does play.
The Indians may be left with no other choice but to put him in the bullpen if the team is competing for a postseason spot.
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