In last year’s draft the Yankees selected an Oklahoman pitcher named Ty Hensley with the 30th overall pick and signed him for $1.2 million. It was an area of need for the Yankees as many of their younger pitchers in recent years haven’t panned out. The 6’4″, 220 pound 18-year-old appeared in five game in rookie ball last season and his future looks very bright with the Yankees.
Hensley pitched in 12 innings last season spread across five appearances (four starts) and performed pretty well in his pro debut. He pitched to a 3.00 ERA (4.20 FIP) and he struck out 14 batters while walking seven. That last number is a bit alarming as it resulted in him walking 12.3% of the hitters he faced, but he also struck out 24.6% of those he faced. All in all, it’s a very small sample size while pitching in a new place at a young age, so there’s no need to be concerned.
However, the Yankees did offer Hensley a $1.6 million contract when he was first drafted, but a post-draft physical revealed an abnormality in his shoulder. Apparently, it’s not career-threatening, but it’s something that team will have in the back of their mind.
Now, let’s get into the good stuff. Hensley features a fastball that regularly sits in the 92-95 mph range, and has touched 97 mph. His fastball has two-seam life so he can bear in on righties. Baseball America voted Hensley’s curveball as one of the best in last year’s draft. It’s a high-70’s 12-to-6 curveball that he locates well. The Yankees covet curveballs over sliders, so it’s no wonder they went after him in the draft. He also features a changeup that is still a work in progress.
The main beef on Hensley is repeating his delivery consistently, which is an issue for most prep pitchers. The Yankees sent him to the Dominican to work with pitching coordinator, Nardi Contreras to help iron out this problem. Scouts believe that adding more strength will help alleviate some of his control problems, especially his, at times, erratic release point.
Further, some scouts say that mixing his power stuff with more finesse pitches like the changeup, will be his recipe for success. His offspeed pitches are trending in the right direction, so that shouldn’t be a concern going forward. He’s a strong candidate as a frontline starter in the coming years, so it’s imperative the Yankees develop him the right way, and not rush him.
Hensley might begin the year in Low-A with the Charleston Riverdogs. He’s still a ways off from the Bronx, but if he harnesses some of his control problems there’s no reason he can’t make it to the big league club by 2016. The Yankees really need some of their young pitchers to begin panning out. Dellin Betances has regressed in recent years, and Manny Banuelos has been an injury risk. Meanwhile, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes didn’t develop as the team would have hoped. Overall, Hensley is a power arm, who has the potential to be a very solid #2 starter.