70 in 70: Number 53

Our 70 in 70 countdown to Opening Day rolls on. Just 53 days to go, and let’s take a look at former BlueClaws pitcher Kyle Kendrick.

A seventh round pick out of Mount Vernon, Washington in 2003, Kendrick struggled in his first two years in Lakewood, 2004 and 2005, going 3-11 and splitting time with Batavia. But the third time was the charm, and over seven starts, Kendrick had a 2.15 ERA and struck out more than a batter per inning, easily a career best. On May 3rd (53), 2006, he was named Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Week, and was soon promoted.

A huge, and important surprise in 2007, Kendrick went 10-4 for the big league club after a call-up from Reading. Last year, he went 11-9 but lost his rotation spot at the end of the season, and this year in camp he is in a four-way battle (with Chan-Ho Park, Carlos Carrasco, and JA Happ) for the fifth-starter spot in the Phillies rotation.

What happened to Kendrick at the end of last year? Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News asked him a few weeks ago.

“I just didn’t pitch very well,” he said. “People say I was tired, but it really started becoming a mental thing. I got tired mentally, and then it just snowballed from there.”

Click here to read the rest of a good article about Kendrick and his preparations for 2009.

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