One of the more intriguing names in the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft class is infielder Gunnar Henderson. At the bottom of the First Round, the New York Yankees can afford to take chances on high school/prep school players with either the 30th or 38th selection. True, you don’t draft for need usually, but the organization could always use more players on the left side of the infield.
On Monday, Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline unveiled his first mock draft and listed Henderson as one of the players who is moving up draft boards with less than a month to go. Here is what Callis had to say about the infielder from Morgan Academy in Selma, Alabama:
“One of the high school position players with the most helium right now, Henderson has played his way into the first round by getting faster and stronger and showing more power and defensive prowess at shortstop.”
Now, Henderson is committed to Auburn University, one of the better programs in the SEC. Also, his older brother, Jackson, currently is in his first year with the Tigers after playing two years at junior college. However, MLB Pipeline has him ranked as the 33rd best prospect in this class, so he might be around when the Yankees make their selections in Round 1 or in the Competitive Balance round.
Baseball America has him right around that area in their rankings as the 39th best player in the class.
“Henderson is a physical, 6-foot-3, 194-pound infielder with a chance to stick at shortstop. He has some power from the left side of the plate and solid bat speed out of a slightly wide stance with a toe-tap load and long, one-handed finish.”
Henderson is having a good season at Selma Academy. In 30 games, he has a slash line of .562/.645/1.239 with 14 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs, and 73 RBIs. He has shown some speed as well as he has 30 stolen bases in 39 attempts according to Max Preps.
If you look at Henderson’s swing, the toe-tapping stride that he has stands out and it should help him at the professional level with swinging level to the baseball. Here is some video of him from Baseball Factory when he was at the Under Armour All-American Game last summer:
Even if Henderson does not stick at shortstop, third base would be a position where he could rise up the Yankees system if he performs. Shortstop is a little crowded n the system at the moment with players like Wilkerman Garcia, Diego Castillo, and Kyle Holder (30th overall in 2015). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Henderson to start at shortstop just to get him to feel comfortable at the professional level.
If Henderson is available in the bottom half of the First Round, then he is a player the Yankees should consider selecting because of his swing and his defensive ability on the left side. With that being said, if his draft stock does continue to rise over the next month, then he might not be available with the 30th pick, to begin with.