Kyle Hendricks’ first moment at Bragan Field was a memorable one. With adrenaline flowing in front of a record crowd of 9,373 fans Wednesday night, the Tennessee Smokies hurler made his first career All-Star start for the Southern League’s North Division team in Jacksonville.
The 23-year-old right-hander ran into trouble in the opening frame as he faced five batters and allowed two earned runs on 15 pitches. Hendricks, who is 9-3 on the season with a 2.03 ERA, said the South Division lineup made contact on what he felt were good pitches.
“I was just trying to go up there and throw my two-seam, get it to sink and get a couple of ground balls,” Hendricks said. “They hit a couple of good pitches and there’s nothing you can do about that. That happens some days.”
Hendricks raved about the All-Star lineup he faced, in particular Jacksonville Suns outfielder and Miami Marlins fourth-rated prospect Jake Marisnick.
“He’s a really good ballplayer,” Hendricks said. “We’ve never faced him before so I didn’t know anything about him and he hit a ground-ball single up the middle off me but watching him these last two games, he’s going to be a really good ballplayer in the future.”
Marisnick led the game off for the South Division with a single to center field, setting the table for Mobile BayBears outfielder Justin Greene, who took advantage of a 2-1 pitch and laced it to right field for a triple to score Marisnick and give the South a 1-0 edge. Mobile third baseman Nick Evans followed in the next at-bat and scored Greene on a RBI-single to put Hendricks and the North in a 2-0 deficit. The Tennessee ace induced a 5-4-3 double play from Mississippi Braves third baseman Edward Salcedo to end the inning.
Despite taking the loss in a 6-0 defeat at the hands of the South Division, the first-year Southern Leaguer left the All-Star festivities impressed by what he saw.
“This [All-Star game] was awesome,” Hendricks said. “You know it’s kind of weird being around the guys you compete against when you go out there. You’re trying to get these guys out, or our position guys are trying to get hits off these guys, and then you’re buddies. It’s kind of weird in the beginning but it was an awesome experience. All the events [Jacksonville] threw were great and just to play in the game it was an honor.”
Hendricks earned the starting honor due in part to his success at Smokies Park. In eight starts at home, the righty is 5-1 with a 0.68 ERA while having allowed just four earned runs.
Hendricks will make his first start since the All-Star game and this Monday, as Tennessee hosts Jacksonville for the final game of their five-game series. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. ET.
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Nick Roark is a Broadcast & Media Assistant for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow him on Twitter here: NickRoark4.