1999 Bloomington Jefferson graduate and former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Ben Hendrickson was born in St. Cloud on February 4, 1981.
Milwaukee chose Hendrickson in the 10th round out of high school. He was the second of three Jefferson Jaguars drafted out of high school, and the first of those high school draftees to make it to the majors… so far. 2015 graduate Jake Irvin was drafted by the Twins in the 37th round, but opted to attend the University of Oklahoma. The 6-foot-6 pitcher was drafted by the Nationals in the fourth round following his junior year in 2018.
The Twins drafted Kent Mariska out of Jefferson in the 40th round of the 1974 draft. The speedster didn’t advance past Appalachian League rookie ball, though.
Though not drafted out of high school, another Jefferson alumnus has made it to the majors. Steven Edlefsen was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 16th round of the 2007 draft out of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Edlefsen made it to the majors with the Giants in 2011 and 2012, appearing in 27 games overall.
I always find people’s paths to the majors interesting. Despite being drafted out of high school, Hendrickson doesn’t exactly dominate the Bloomington Jefferson record books. He tied the school record with 17 strikeouts in a game vs. Eagan in 1998. His 71 strikeouts in 1998 and 65 in ’99 are third and fifth-best in school history. His 1998 ERA of 2.01 is eleventh-best in school history. There have been four no-hitters and 13 one-hitters in school history; none by Hendrickson. He did, however, pitch a two-hitter vs. Bloomington Kennedy in 1998. He also had two career shutouts: one vs. Eagan in 1997, and another vs. Wayzata in 1998.
Pitching at triple-A Indianapolis in 2004, Hendrickson was the International League MVP and Brewers minor league pitcher of the year, going 11-3 with two shutouts, a 2.02 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He also made 10 appearances in the majors that year (nine starts).
Hendrickson made his major league debut in Los Angeles on June 2, 2004 at age 23. He gave up four runs on seven hits over five innings, picking up the loss. He made nine starts and one relief appearance that season, finishing with a 1-8 record. His only major league win came in Milwaukee on September 4, 2004, when he held the Cincinnati Reds to two runs on seven hits over six innings.
Hendrickson spent the entire 2005 season at triple-A where he went 6-12.
He made it back to the majors in 2006, making three starts and one relief appearance. He made his final major league appearance on May 20, 2006 in Milwaukee vs. his hometown Minnesota Twins. After giving up a leadoff single to Lew Ford and walking Luis Castillo, he gave up consecutive RBI hits to Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Justin Morneau before he was pulled, having given up five runs without recording an out. A sixth run was charged to him before the inning was over.
Hendrickson hung around pro ball for three more seasons, spending time in the Royals and Rays organizations before being signed by the Twins on February 17, 2009. He made nine relief appearances for triple-A Rochester, giving up nine runs on 18 hits and nine walks over 10.1 innings before being released on June 19.
A few noteworthy things jumped out at me while perusing Hendrickson’s Baseball Reference page:
• With former Twin Todd Walker on base, Hendrickson gave up one of Sammy Sosa’s 609 career home runs on July 29, 2004.
• He held slugger Adam Dunn 0-for- 5 with a walk and three strikeouts. Dunn was elected to the Reds Hall of Fame this past November.
• Larry Walker was 1-for- 6 with a walk and a strikeout vs. Hendrickson. Walker appeared on 34.1% of Hall of Fame ballots in 2018, his eighth year of eligibility.
• Hendrickson got two major league hits, the first coming off the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano on July 29, 2004.