2012 First Round Draft Pick: Ty Hensley

R.J. Baker pulls a Chris Davis in Triple-A win
2012 Draft: Best Available on Day Two

With their first round selection (#30 overall) in the 2012 draft, the Yankees selected high school right-hander Ty Hensley. He’s only the third high school pitcher they’ve drafted in the true first round (not supplemental first round) over the last 18 years, joining Phil Hughes (2004) and Gerrit Cole (2008). Slot money for this pick is $1.6M.

An Oklahoma kid from Santa Fe High School outside of Oklahoma City, Hensley’s father Mike pitched for three years in the minors after being selected in the second round of the 1988 draft by the Cardinals. Mike was also a long-time pitching coach at Kansas State, so Ty has grown up around the game. Hensley played quarterback for his high school before giving up football to focus on baseball as a senior. He’s committed to Mississippi.

Scouting Report
Oklahoma has a history of producing physically huge pitchers — Josh Johnson, Brad Penny, Braden Looper, and Jamey Wright most recently — and Hensley fits the bill at 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs. He sat in the 92-95 range with his fastball this spring and ran it as high as 97 at times, backing it up with a sharp overhand curve he throws in the upper-70s. His changeup shows promise but like most high schoolers, he hasn’t needed it and the pitch needs work. Hensley has a high leg kick and is deliberate with his delivery, which sometimes leads to command issues. As I mentioned when I first wrote him up as a potential target in March, his makeup and coachability are pluses. He also speaks Spanish, apparently.

It won’t matter as a pro, but I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Hensley is a switch-hitter with some pop in his bat. Ole Miss will allow him to both pitch and hit, but he’s a much better pro prospect on the mound. Here’s his MLB.com draft video.

The various scouting publications all considered Hensley a back-half of the first round/early-sandwich round talent in their most recent rankings…

  • Kevin Goldstein: 19th best prospect overall and ninth best pitcher (subs. req’d)
  • Baseball America: 23rd best prospect overall and 11th best pitcher
  • MLB.com: 26th best prospect overall and 13th best pitcher
  • Keith Law: 36th best pitcher overall and 19th best pitcher (subs. req’d)

Damon Oppenheimer’s Take
Here’s what the Yankees’ scouting director said in a statement following the announcement of the pick, courtesy of Bryan Hoch

“We’re excited to get a guy with such a high ceiling. He has the ideal body for a high school pitcher, as well as power stuff, and has the ability to be a high-end starter. He’s demonstrated a quality makeup and has shown himself to be a hard worker, which makes him a quality pick for us.”

My Take
Over the last week or two we’ve heard that the Yankees were targeting various prep arms, but Hensley was one of the few names not said to be on their radar. That’s probably not an accident; he was likely high on their board and they didn’t want it to be known. Oppenheimer usually emphasizes polish when it comes to pitching prospects, but this time he leaned towards upside and got a guy with a big fastball and more importantly, an out-pitch breaking ball. The Yankees love their big pitchers and again, Hensley fits right in. There’s a lot to like about this pick and the biggest thing to watch going forward is his command. If Hensley cleans up his delivery and is able to throw strikes consistently, he has a chance to be an above-average workhorse starter who misses bats and eats innings.

R.J. Baker pulls a Chris Davis in Triple-A win
2012 Draft: Best Available on Day Two
  • jjyank

    Mike, any initial thoughts on where Hensley fits into the prospect rankings?

    I like the pick, can’t complain about big framed power pitchers.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Not sure yet but probably high-ish, 5-10 range.

  • Ghost

    Baby Phil Hughes.

    Good pick. If Nardi can help him improve his Curve even further, we’re very well looking at a kid who will have 2 Plus pitches in his arsenal.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      Baby Phil Hughes.

      Maybe he’ll allow two home runs in every start.

      • Bo Knows

        I hope this is sarcasm, because Hughes as a prospect was a beast. Him being rushed and not fulfilling that promise does not change that.

        • RI$P FTW

          LO f’ing L.
          Get a clue.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I’d argue Hughes wasn’t terribly rushed either.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            Eh, being promoted to MLB at age 20 with only about 250 minor league innings under hs belt can certainly be considered rushed.

            Maybe not Rick Porcello rushed, but rushed nonetheless.

          • Havok9120

            200 MiLB innings at the time of callup in ’07. 28 innings in 5 AAA starts was the totality of his time in Scranton…

            It wasn’t as bad as Joba, but that isn’t a great recipe for developing non-phenoms.

            • Jimmy McNulty

              Yes, but Hughes crushed AA and there wasn’t much that he could still learn at the minor league level. Joba pitched quite a bit in college too, with him it wasn’t so much that he was rushed, it’s that he wasn’t brought up in the right way. Pitchers need more than two pitches to be a successful starter. As a reliever they can get by with it, bringing up Joba in the bullpen allowed him to face major league hitting but in an environment that focused on winning rather than development. One step forward but two steps backwards. If they wanted to bring him up in August of 2007 that’s fine, he was absolutely dominating…what was he going to learn in AA? Maybe a few starts in AAA and let him handle ML hitting as a starter for a bit.

        • Jimmy McNulty

          Oh great, so he was rushed right? What was Clayton Kershaw? Yes, I know it’s the NL West, but Kershaw’s a lefty who typically take more time to develop command. Hughes has had about 500 innings to his name and he still never developed a secondary pitch, his fastball hasn’t had consistent velocity and he allows too many fly balls. Yeah, the Yankees fucked him over by moving him to the pen in 2009 when he needed innings…but he’s still just not all that great.

          • Sweet Dick Willie

            What can be considered rushed for one player may not be rushed for another; players progress at different rates.

            Dwight Gooden made his MLB debut at age 19 with about the the same number of minor league innings as Hughes, and Gooden clearly wasn’t rushed (he had his best season at age 20).

            • Jimmy McNulty

              Yes, I understand that. My point was that Hughes isn’t very good and comparing a pitcher to Phil Hughes doesn’t make me feel very good, unless that pitcher is on the Red Sox.

          • Bo Knows

            So everything Hughes accomplished as a prospect wasn’t good? All you do is bitch, moan and bitch some more. Hughes was a great prospect that is FACT his minor league numbers could compete with anyone. As I stated whatever he’s accomplished (or hasn’t) in the bigs doesn’t change that.

            So because Dwight Gooden did it, every 19-20 year old should be able to do what he did…gotcha

            • Jimmy McNulty

              So everything Hughes accomplished as a prospect wasn’t good?
              Hughes was a great prospect that is FACT his minor league numbers could compete with anyone.

              I don’t think I ever said he wasn’t a great prospect, just that he’s not a very good major league pitcher and his current major league numbers compare unfavorably to Scott Baker and similarly mediocre to middling pitchers.

              So because Dwight Gooden did it, every 19-20 year old should be able to do what he did…gotcha

              Never mentioned Dwight Gooden, I mentioned Clayton Kershaw. Anyways my point wasn’t so much that Hughes was or wasn’t rushed, regardless of if he was or wasn’t he’s simply not good enough to be a successful major league pitcher, or half the pitcher that he was billed to be.

              Why do the homers here have to be so dense? Can we get Robinson back?

          • Havok9120

            You’re stating facts that have absolutely nothing to do with what Phil Hughes was on draft day. Which is all anyone was talking about.

            • Jimmy McNulty

              And I’m saying that has very little consequence. Mike Piazza only got signed because Tommy LaSorta was his godfather and everyone thought Phil Hughes was going to be good. Shit happens.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    Upside. We can deal with upside at 18. Good pick.

  • forensic

    the biggest thing to watch going forward is his command. If Hensley cleans up his delivery and is able to throw strikes consistently, he has a chance to be an above-average workhorse starter who misses bats and eats innings.

    Yay! Brackman part 3 and Betances part 2. They have such a good track record so far…

    (Note: I have no idea if he’s like them, but that’s the first thing I thought of when reading it)

    • Mason

      Betances came before Brackman though…

      • forensic

        Oh, sorry. Didn’t care enough to bother looking it up and and thought with the time elapsed, age, etc., that maybe Brackman was earlier. Point still stands if you reverse them though.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          No. It doesn’t.

      • Jacob

        Betances’ trouble comes from the fact he is 6’8 and that is a lot harder to fix than a guy who is 6’5…

    • G

      And I read something about having a straight fastball and thought of Phil Hughes.

      But the reason for these perhaps unfavorable comparisons is more the fact that guys with scouting reports like that are abundant and some pan out to become great pitchers, while others flame out. We haven’t had a ton of luck lately, but he has a shit ton of upside and it’s as good a gamble as we could take that late in the first round.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        We haven’t had a ton of luck lately, but he has a shit ton of upside and it’s as good a gamble as we could take that late in the first round.

        Hell they’ve barely had any. Maybe he’ll be different but they’ve definitely got to fix whatever it is that they’re doing with pitchers.

        • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

          Maybe Nardi is getting a little long in the tooth to be considered a “guru.”

          • Jasphil

            Why are pitching coaches always called ‘gurus’?

    • Chip

      You can teach command and control, you can’t teach arm strength and height

      • forensic

        If you can teach command and control then you should call the Yankees because they seem to be missing something in that field.

    • Jimmy McNulty

      I mean their track record doesn’t inspire hope, but I’m glad they’re getting back on the horse. Maybe they’ll just deal these prospects at the peak of their prospect value and sign FA pitchers. Who knows. Either way, legit pick. Maybe it’s because I didn’t pay attention to the draft earlier and couldn’t fall in love with a Tyrell Jenkins, Asher Wojciehowski, Nick Castellanos, or an AJ Cole or maybe it’s because it’s a better pick. Either way, kinda reminds me of a bigger Brett Marshall and that’s a good thing.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    I’ve read that his fastball and curve are a bit faster:

    He doesn’t command the fastball well, yet, but blows up radar guns into the mid-90s and up to 98. His curveball is a true 12-6 offering into the low-80s.

    Maybe as he fills out (hard to imagine how big he can get if he’s already 6-5 225) he’ll consistently be on the higher end of that velocity. Overall I like the pick, some of these guys will pan out and others won’t. Still sore over not getting Workman in 2010 (UT fan, saw him at the CWS and always liked him…Jungmann and Ruffin I liked too, hell Ranaudo looked good for that matter too), but this team needs pitching in the worse way, and it doesn’t look like that’ll change anytime soon. Lets hope for the best.

    • Johnny O

      hard to play the what-if game in some that’s as big a crap shoot as the MLB draft….but culver over castellanos still kills me.

      i like the hensley pick. it at least made sense at the time of the pick, as opposed to the last two years.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        I hear you. Culver’s upside was entirely wrapped up in that he projected to play shortstop, the guy hasn’t shown anything that remotely resembles power but I mean when you’re projecting 18 (17 in Culver’s case) year olds positions that’s almost impossible…I’d rather take the guy that can hit. We still might be wrong but it’s looking doubtful.

      • Steve (different one)

        I will give you Culver, but Bichette was a fine pick. It was the 51st pick, not the 15th pick. The reason the “experts” criticized the pick was because it was assumed he couldn’t stick at 3B. They have reversed course on that. If they had that info, which the Yankees did, on draft day, no one would have knocked the pick.

        • Jimmy McNulty

          Bichette was a pick that I didn’t like that I’m slowly warming up to.

  • John

    Not to be picky, but he’d be the fourth HS pitcher he Yanks picked in round one over the last 19 years. Matt Drews was left off the list.

  • David Brown

    The Yankees always seem to draft and sign a few guys just because they are the Yankees, and they are aware of certain guys who really want to come here: Camarena from last year’s draft, and Brett Marshall were examples of this. From what I was reading Hensley seemed pretty solidly set to go to Ole Miss, and this could be him playing possom hoping to get drafted by a team like the Yankees. They also scout a lot in that neck of the woods (Last year’s #18, Hayden Sharp is another Oklahoma kid they signed). With a $4.2m Cap Number, what I project is a very similar draft to last year’s when you get quality over quantity. What we saw, is they only signed one guy who could be projected as filler (Cody Grice), and only one player past the 30th Round (Joey Maher). Why is that? Assuming Hensley signs at the slot number ($1.7m), with a total of $4.2m, they only have $2.5m left for the rest of the Rounds 2-9 (Plus the choice for Stafford). Two things I project: 1: I see a lot of quick signs across MLB, because players, teams & agents know the $$$ are not there, so they better sign when they can. 2: Teams draft just to block. Why? Sometimes it makes more sense to draft a guy with no intent to sign him, so your competition (See Red Sox) can’t, then waste it on filler.

  • Wayne

    Should have drafted Mitch gueller he repeats his delivery better than Hensley and has a better body and big hands and thicker legs. Still a good pick but thought we could have done better with gueller

    • Bo Knows

      not sure how someone 2 inches shorter and 20lbs lighter can ever be considered “thicker” and everything about Hensley states that his legs have a tendency to fly open early, that’s not a big problem and is very correctable

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Steve Sciacco

    Love the pick. Given that hes a high school pitcher I dont expect him to be a finished product, but he has a great tool set to work with. Could add a tick or two to that high 90s heat, ideal frame for a power pitcher, less make up concerns than Gerrit Cole had at the same age. Cole had a better arm, but similar command issues and needed to clean up his delivery. If he went to college and pitched well, we would have no shot at him. The Yanks need to take chances like this given where they draft.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    is it weird that I immediately had to think about Betances when I read the scouting report?

    anyway I think this is a good pick but of course we won’t know for sure for some years.

    • Steve (different one)

      Watch the video, he looks nothing like Betances.

      • Bavarian Yankee

        I should have specified my argument: I was only talking about the stuff. Betances also has that speedy fastball and a hard curveball, tbh I haven’t seen any video of Hensley yet.

        • Steve (different one)

          Fair enough, not trying to pick on you, my point was just that Betances biggest enemy is his frame. His height makes it difficult for him to repeat his delivery, and he has very odd mechanics. Hensley looks like your typical power right hander. He’ll face the same long odds that any pitching prospect faces, but he’s not a lottery ticket like Brackman or Betances.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Betances coming out of HS was a VERY different animal.

      • pat

        Yeah as much as I hate to admit, Bentances has a bit of Frankenstein in him. He certainly wasn’t playing QB for the football team.

        • The Guns of Navarone

          + 1

          The fact that he’s a two-way player AND was playing quarterback suggests an athleticism that Betances has never had and was never advertised to have.

    • Reggie C.

      A Hughes comp makes more sense. Hensley reads as if he’s a better HS athlete, so that’s another plus. There’s a lot to like with this pick.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    He sounds like a great pick with much upside. His size and having a father who pitched in the minors enhanced his development. Hopefully, he will sign and pursue a degree in the off season if he chooses.

    I just wonder about the position players and the restocking of the farm system each year under this new draft system compensation.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I know nothing of scouting and don’t pretend to know. I don’t follow this stuff outside of what Axisa tells me.

    That being said, it was nice for the team to have picked someone who fit the “best available” tag instead of a potential overreach. Feels like a safe pick. Big kid on the mound. What’s there not to like. See you at the 2018 All Star Game.

    • Ted Nelson

      Would love to see whether these prospect lists or the actual draft are more correlated with MLB success (even prospect success, since there’s trade value in that).

      • Mister D

        I’d bet on the lists simply because they don’t have to concern themselves with signability.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    “Oklahoma has a history of producing physically huge pitchers”
    Physically huge people actually. Pitchers are just a subset.

  • JohnC

    Should be an iteresting day 2 as still alot of good players on the board. With the new slotting rules Day 3 almost becomes irrelevant cause the days of taking fliers on huigh ceiling guys in late rounds that slipped due to bonus demands are pretty much over. One guy Yanks had pegged in 2nd round, rhp Paul Blackburn was taken by the Cubs in the suppl. round Still guys like Ty Buttrey, Tanner Rahier, and Adam brett Walker still on the board.

  • Mister D

    He breaks his hands late and his dad didn’t play in the majors. I hate this pick.

    (No I don’t, I love this pick as much as you can love a pick based on scouting reports and knowing Russell was long gone. I’m not creepy like Axisa, but do love the big HS pitchers too.)

  • This Year

    What are the chances of him going to Mississippi?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Good question.

  • DM

    They just discovered a problem with his birth certificate.

    He’s actually 37 yrs old. His real name? Matt Drews.

  • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

    So when’s his Tommy John surgery scheduled for? ;-)

    • The Guns of Navarone

      Get Marchand and Matthews down to Oklahoma to question him!! And bring the radar gun!

      “Where’s the v-lo?”

      “He’s only throwing 93. Where’s 98!?!?!”

      “Can you handle New York?”

  • Mooch

    What’s not to like…the draft is a crap shoot and they were picking #30. If there is only a 10-15% of all these pitching prospects making it as MLB starters, then the only way to ensure some future success is to have as many of them as possible. The Yanks will always buy at least 2 pitchers in their rotation so to fill the other 3 spots we need about 15-20 arms in the minor league system that have the “potential”. Most will either not be good enough, get injured, or get traded. That is just the way it goes. Who knows if this guy will but if we have enough arms..some will help us in the future.

  • OldYanksFan

    While there are planty of Top 5 Studs in MLB (Strasberg, Trout, ARod, Bryce, etc) and many, many Top 50 guys in the Bigs, MLB is littered with quality players who didn’t seem to be anything special at Draft time. Remember, of our Fab Five, only Jeter seemed to be ‘special’.

    And whether it’s Nova, Cano, DRob, or whomever, it’s hard to know who will make it and who won’t.

    Obviously the Top 50 have a higher percentage chance, but it is still very much a crap shot.

    To me, makeup is as important factor as any. To much extent, regardless of talent, it takes tremendous work, dedication and ability to learn and grow, to make it in the Bigs. Ya got to be smart enough to stay out of bar room fights, and, ya know, maybe stay off of trampolines (kidding).

    The MSM seems to think this was a GREAT #30 pick, and to me, he has many of the ‘tools’ you would want in to pick.

    I wonder how many Top 50 picks TB and KC have had over the last 15 years…. years that we MAY have had 2 Top 100 picks. Considering the low picks we have had over that time, as well as picks lost to FAs, I think the Yankees have done an amazing job producing a decent farm.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      Trout was not a top 5 pick.

  • OldYanksFan

    But you get my point?

  • rogue

    Good measurables. Good bloodlines. Solid overall prospect. With drafting being an inexact science (baseball’s draft chief among all of sports drafts), this was a safe and solid pick.

    Can’t say anything bad about that.

  • Jasphil

    I thought this was a retrospective story on Hensley Muelens…