A two-way star who rated as the state of Minnesota's best prospect in 2014, Hentges focused on pitching after signing for an over-slot $700,000 in the fourth round. Waylaid by Tommy John surgery in 2016, he didn't break out until 2018, when he led the Class A Advanced Carolina League in strikeout rate (9.3 per nine innings) while ranking second in ERA (3.27). His jump to Double-A didn't go smoothly last year, as he gave up the most runs (89) and baserunners (213), took the most losses (13) and posted the worst ERA (5.11) among qualifiers in the Eastern League.
Hentges has displayed more arm speed since having his elbow reconstructed and now works at 91-94 mph and reaches 96 with some sink on his fastball. His upper-70s curveball features good depth and serves as his best secondary pitch, though it was less effective in 2019 and never has dominated same-side hitters. He also has a mid-80s cutter that he added in 2018 and a fading changeup that he needs to trust more often.
While Hentges' 6-foot-8 frame and high three-quarters delivery create steep downhill plane, he was less effective at inducing grounders last year than he had been previously. His mechanics are fairly polished for an extra-large pitcher, but he has yet to repeat them well enough to provide consistent strikes. He can't blow hitters away, so he'll have to command his offerings better to succeed against upper-level hitters.
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
The top prospect in Minnesota in 2014, Hentges was a high school two-way star who became a full-time pitcher after signing for an over-slot $700,000 in the fourth round. He spent most of his first two years as a pro in Rookie ball before blowing out his elbow in '16, with Tommy John surgery sidelining him for most of the subsequent season as well. He finally broke out in 2018, leading the Class A Advanced Carolina League in strikeout rate (9.3 per nine innings) and ranking second in ERA (3.27).
Hentges doesn't have a true plus pitch, but he has the potential for four solid offerings. He has shown more arm speed since having his elbow reconstructed and now works at 91-94 and touches 96 mph with his fastball. An upper-70s downer curveball is his second-most reliable option, a mid-80s cutter he began throwing in 2018 has promise and his changeup features some fade and should improve if he uses it more often.
Hentges uses his 6-foot-6 frame and high-three-quarters delivery to create steep downhill plane on his pitches, which helped him top the Carolina League in home-run rate (0.3 per nine innings). He has a fairly smooth delivery for an extra-large pitcher but has yet to prove he can throw strikes on a consistent basis. If he can do that and refine his secondary offerings, he could be a mid-rotation starter.
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 45 | Overall: 50
Hentges was named Minnesota's Gatorade High School Player of the Year in 2014, the same year that the Indians drafted the big left-hander in the fourth round. He enjoyed a promising start to his career and advanced to full-season ball in 2016, only to require Tommy John surgery in June that kept him out for part of the next year. Fully healthy in 2018, Hentges made the jump straight to Class A Advanced Lynchburg and emerged as one of Cleveland's top pitching prospects behind an impressive campaign in the Carolina League.
The 6-foot-6 southpaw has shown improved physicality as well as more arm speed since making his return to the mound, and the result has been a fastball that now touches 96 mph and sits comfortably in the low 90s with significant downhill plane. Hentges' downer curveball flashes plus when it's right, and he's demonstrated better feel for throwing a potentially average changeup post-surgery. He's still learning how to repeat his delivery, and scouts expect both his control and command to improve as he becomes comfortable doing so.
The combination of Hentges being one of the youngest players in his Draft class and that he's quickly made up for lost time due to surgery bodes suggests his best is yet to come. He's still a bit of a project and will need time to develop his craft, but the long-term payoff could be that of a mid-rotation workhorse who misses his share of bats.