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Ryan Hendrix Throws 'Very Special' Curveball



Catcher Chris Okey isn't sure just how it happens, if it's on purpose or even if it's humanly possible, but sometimes—he swears this is the case—Ryan Hendrix's curveball goes backwards.

"It's a very special pitch," Okey said. "I don't think you could teach anyone that, it's just something he has in his arsenal and it's nasty."

The Reds took Hendrix, 24, in the fifth round of the 2016 draft out of Texas A&M, where the righthander had a 6.39 ERA in his junior season. Still, the stuff was much better than his stats.

Since turning pro, he's gotten better and better, putting up a 1.76 ERA in 44 appearances for high Class A Daytona last year with 12 saves. He struck out 79 batters in 51 innings with just 26 walks. Hendrix is expected to start the season with Double-A Chattanooga.

While Hendrix pitches in the mid-90s with his fastball, it's his curveball that's his calling card, in part, because it's just like his fastball—hard.

"His fastball can hit 100 (mph) and sometimes his curveball is right at 90," said Reds catching prospect Tyler Stephenson, who was with Hendrix all last season in Daytona.

"What he'll do sometimes—obviously a curveball has this type of motion (Stephenson shows a diagonal break from right-to-left)—but his will back up almost like a left-handed curveball, but it's not on purpose. It's an accidental pitch. With how hard he throws, he has some good stuff."

Okey has also seen that curveball back up.

"It's one of those things that I don't think you could ever teach that curveball. It's just one of those things he has," Okey said.

"It's just hard, firm and it breaks a lot. The firmer it is, usually the tighter it is, like a hard slider. It's still good but doesn't break as much. But his curveball, it's firm and it just breaks. It breaks, sometimes it's 12-to-6, and sometimes I swear it goes backwards. It's just really, really good."

NOTES:

— Adding injury to insult, top prospect Nick Senzel suffered a sprained ankle after being reassigned to minor league camp. He'll be in a walking boot for seven to 14 days and then is expected to take a couple of weeks to get back into playing shape.

— Although not as highly ranked as he once was, outfielder Aristides Aquino had a nice showing for the Reds in the Cactus League this spring, hitting .360/.407/.600 with one home run in 27 plate appearances.

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