Prospect Profile: Ty Hensley

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(Photo via BaseballLife365.com)

Ty Hensley | RHP

Background
Raised in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, Hensley was a two-sport star at Sante Fe High School before giving up his quarterback gig to focus on baseball as a senior. He pitched to a 1.52 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 55.1 innings with the Wolves this spring, earning him Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year honors and several other awards. His father Mike was a second round pick who was a long-time college pitching coach after injuries derailed his playing career.

Prior to the draft, Baseball America ranked Hensley as the second best prospect in the state and 23rd best prospect in the draft overall. Keith Law ranked him as the 36th best prospect overall. The Yankees grabbed Hensley with their first round pick, the 30th overall selection. It was the fifth straight year they took a high schooler with their top pick, but only the third time they took a high school pitcher with their top selection since 1993. The two sides agreed to a straight-slot $1.6M signing bonus shortly after the draft, but a pre-signing physical found an “abnormality” in his right shoulder. Hensley eventually agreed to a reduced $1.2M bonus on the eve of the signing deadline and passed on his commitment to Ole Miss.

Pro Debut
The Yankees sent Hensley to their Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliate in Tampa after signing, where he made five appearances (four starts). He allowed eight runs (four earned) in 12 innings, striking out 14 against seven walks. Hensley attended both Instructional Leagues after the season, first in Tampa and then in the Dominican Republic.

Scouting Report
Oklahoma has a history of producing physically huge pitchers and Hensley fits right in at 6-foot-5 and 220 lbs. His fastball velocity spiked a bit this spring and he now sits comfortably in the 92-94 range and will maintains that deep into games. He’s run it up as high as 98 in the past and it shows good two-seam life in on right-handed batters. Hensley’s break-and-butter pitch is a power 12-to-6 curveball in the upper-70s/low-80s that was one of the best curveballs in the draft class. Reports from the GCL about his low-80s changeup were encouraging, but like most high schoolers the pitch still has a ways to go.

Hensley is a good athlete — he was also a switch-hitting outfielder in high school — but he’s still growing a bit and needs to continue to work on finding consistency with his delivery. His command lags behind his stuff, in part because he lands on his heel (theoretically easy to correct). He also tends to pitch up in the zone with his fastball, so he has to work on using his size to drive the ball downhill. Like basically every player the Yankees pursue these days, Majors or minors, Hensley’s makeup and work ethic are considered major pluses. He even learned to speak Spanish to better communicate with teammates in high school. Here is his MLB.com draft video, and there are plenty more clips available at YouTube.

2013 Outlook
I’m not sure really sure what the plan is for Hensley next season. New minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson had a tendency to be a little aggressive with the few high school pitchers the Athletics drafted during his five years with Oakland, so there’s a pretty good chance the Yankees will bump their first rounder right up to Low-A Charleston to start next season. If not, Hensley will stay back in Extended Spring Training to work on his mechanics before joining Short Season Staten Island when the season begins in late-June.

My Take
If you’ve been reading my stuff long enough, then you know I’m a fan of high school school pitchers. Hensley gets a thumbs up from me though I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about the shoulder “abnormality.” It’s comforting to know that he’s been asymptomatic and without pain the whole time, but it’s still not something you want to hear. Hensley has said that he wants to reach the big leagues by age 21 — he’ll turn 20 in July — which might be a little optimistic, but it’s good to see him not be shy about his goals. There’s an awful lot of upside here but also some work that needs to be done, specifically with the command. I want to see him make it through a full season without any shoulder issues before I get really excited, but there is a lot to like about any teenager with an out-pitch curveball.

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Report: Yankees preparing to offer Rivera pay cut
Report: Yankees still haven't heard from Pettitte about 2013
  • jjyank

    Anybody with his frame and stuff is exciting. Hopefully this “abnormality” is just some weird quirk that never becomes anything. I really don’t know what to make of that, though.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I think the fact that the Yankees still signed him and reduced his bonus by “only” $400k shows they don’t have too much of a concern with the shoulder. I doubt they’d give him $1.2M if they thought it was something that could be career threatening.

      I like that Gil Patterson is agressive with youngsters. Push the kid along (provided he gets the mechnical issues straightened out) and see what he’s got as he progresses quickly through the MiL ranks.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        I agree, if he has the talent keep challenging the kid until he shows he can’t handle it.

      • jjyank

        You’re probably right, and that’s what I’m hoping for. A kid that throws hard and already has an out pitch might be the type of pitcher you be aggresive with.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yankees have been pretty aggressive with top prospects before as well.

  • FLYER7

    Do you think Patterson’s MO will be to push pitchers quickly up the ladder and skip some lower levels? Seems other teams employ different strategies to get arms up to the big club while NYY seem to baby their kid arms which may explain why it takes so long?

    • RetroRob

      It’ll be intersting to see what Patterson does with the Yankees approach toward their young pitchers. I’m exicited Patterson has joined the Yankees from the A’s, which has a strong track record in developing young pitchers. Has the Yankees recent problems with young pitchers been caused by the likes of Nardi Contreras and Billy Connor? Tough to say. Could just be bad luck, but a change was needed, and Patterson appears to be an excellent choice.

      Unrelated, Patterson is probably one of the top few arms the Yankees have drafted over the past thirty something years. Unfortunately he pitched the entire ’77 season with a torn rotator cuff and seems to have taken what he went through as a way to build better pitching mechanics. I take it back. It’s very related.

    • Ted Nelson

      Actually, the Yankees are usually faulted for exactly the opposite. People are still upset that Joba, Hughes, and IPK got pushed through the system too fast. Robertson and Melancon flew through, and Montgomery and Goody look to be doing the same. Banuelos was in AAA at 20.

      The guys the Yankees “baby” are generally not good enough to advance. The people who cry about babying are usually the ones who think Miranda or JoVa should replace Tex and Dickerson is a prospect who they are holding back…

  • Giancarlo Stanton 2017

    I really hope this guy turns into a Matt Cain type

    • Cris Pengiucci

      I think we’d all greatly appreciate that. However, I’d also be very happy with a #2-type pitcher, especially if others within the organization can also approach that. If your #5 can pitch like another team’s #3, you’re in pretty good shape.

      • Giancarlo Stanton 2017

        Very true, good post. Looking at the video, I have really high hopes for this guy, I’ll try not to totally fall in love with him because we know how that can end (Montero).

  • Cris Pengiucci

    What’s your opinion:

    Bring them up young, have them shine for a couple of years (2-4) and then flame out? (Think Lincecom if his top-notch performance doesn’t come back next year)

    Or

    Take your time developing them, have them mature slowly and have long term solid but not outstanding performance?

    • jjyank

      It’s a tough call, but I think I would lean towards the former, since even if you take it slow, it’s still possible the pitcher could have a serious, career threatening arm injury.

      • Giancarlo Stanton 2017

        The injury factor could happen either way. It’s also very possible that he could breakout and become an ace. As you said, it’s a very tough call either way.

    • Giancarlo Stanton 2017

      Do what the Rays did with David Price. With that said, I don’t think that Lincecum is totally done, as you said. I would lean more towards the second option because with his talent and experience, there is always the chance for a breakout year.

    • Ted Nelson

      This is a false dichotomy.

  • Murderers’ Row Boat

    2013: “Hensley has a great year.”
    2014: “Hensley enjoying new NL home after trade.”

    • http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycha/html/home/home.shtml The Big City of Dreams

      Hahahaha

    • RetroRob

      If he brings an Upton, power on.

  • All Praise Be To Mo

    If all goes right with Hensley, in a best case scenario who is a good major league comp?

    • Bo Knows

      waaaaay to early to make comps, for him

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        No ish sherlock, I was saying best case scenario. Like when we first signed Montero, best case scenario if everything worked out was Miguel Cabrera or Frank Thomas.
        Was wondering if everything worked out what kind of player we’re looking at in the future, not too early for a comp based on his size, fastball, breaking pitches, projected development, etc.

        • Bo Knows

          What I was trying make Watson, was that we know jack shit about him, outside the curveball.

          Montero, was in the system a little longer than 4 weeks before the Cabrera comps started falling. Hensley has what 12 innings?

    • Giancarlo Stanton 2017

      I agree with Bo, but I see Matt Cain all over this guy. We’ll know next year once he starts seeing tougher competition.

      • All Praise Be To Mo

        Thank you sir.

      • G

        Where? He doesn’t throw a slider and he has higher velocity.

        I see more Josh Beckett here, back when he was good of course. Power fastball, great curveball, average change up, and the exact same frame within 5 pounds.

        • Preston

          Or Phil Hughes…

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I say get as much value from him as possible. Let him shine for 2-4 years and when he gets close to free agency you trade him.

  • Muccini

    Patterson should be the Yankees pitching coach.

    • RetroRob

      I’d put the most skilled coaches at the lower levels. They can have a far greater impact on development and the organization helping to shape the young players. On the MLB level it’s all about maintaining.

  • Naved

    Phil Hughes clone to the tee. 6’5 230ish. Fastball sits at 92-94. Has a 12-6 curveball and working on a changeup. Drafted straight from High School.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      Let’s hope he doesn’t tear a hammy throwing a no-hitter and permanently lose his curveball.

  • YankeeFan12

    As a former athlete it makes me sick when people start throwing hypothetical injuries out there..guess what he will have one or two. You aren’t a freak of nature and don’t. If every kid coming out of HS was 6’4 220 and threw heat well mommies and daddies wouldn’t have to pay for school and most of us on here would have had our day in the bigs. Let’s give this kid a chance before we are all doom and gloom. Seems we do that with everyone who dare dons the stripes. I am a physical therapist now. Obviously the kid has some funkyness to his shoulder. From what I read sounds congenital to me so if he has been pitching all this time without pain I wouldn’t worry about it because his body seems to have adapted. We don’t know, but the kid has tools that we do know about so let’s focus on that. Many of the scouting reports on Hnesley before the draft were from the summer before and I read he changed is mechanics completely. Part of the reason he shot from 40 something to Keith Kaw saying he was going to LA at 18 the day of the draft. Here is what ESPN said about Ty in his first start for US after a being off for a month and a half checking out his abnormality: McDaniel clocked Hensley at 90-93 and said he was “hitting 95 mph with two-seam life.” His mid-70s curveball “flashed plus” and the report on his changeup was surprisingly positive. “Hensley also threw an 80-82 mph changeup that has a chance to be above-average — better than many of the top prep arms from his class that I scouted this year,” I am all about a high schooler who can get past the crap people put in their heads to save a buck and can go do their thing!