If there was such a thing as a No. 6 spot in the Minnesota Twins five-man starting rotation, it would surely belong to Liam Hendriks, especially considering his strong Spring Training showing.
The Twins' No. 8 prospect completed five one-hit, shutout innings in his seventh and, likely, final Grapefruit League outing as a Minnesota split-squad team topped Toronto's full squad, 4-1.
Hendriks (3-0) retired the first eight Blue Jays batters he faced before walking catcher Jeff Mathis in the third frame. The 23-year-old right-hander yielded a single to Jose Bautista in the fourth before fanning Edwin Encarnacion -- his lone strikeout victim -- and the ensuing four hitters to end his day unscathed.
Minnesota's No. 2 prospect, outfielder Aaron Hicks, doubled twice in four at-bats and accounted for two runs. The organization's No. 7 prospect, first baseman Chris Parmelee, smacked a solo home run, his fourth of the spring, and a single in three at-bats. Hicks is expected to begin the regular season with Double-A New Britain, while Parmelee could supplant Justin Morneau at first base, moving Morneau to the team's designated hitter role full-time.
Hendriks seems less likely to nab a spot on the Opening Day roster. The Australian native went 12-6 with a 3.36 ERA between New Britain and Triple-A Rochester last season. He struggled in his first four Major League outings last September and was challenged this month to join a seemingly set staff of hurlers comprising veterans Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Jason Marquis.
But his undefeated record and 1.80 ERA in 20 Grapefruit League innings can't hurt.