Minor Monday: Gunnar Henderson's putting up numbers at Delmarva - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Minor Monday: Gunnar Henderson’s putting up numbers at Delmarva

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Gunnar Henderson has seen opposing pitchers make adjustments to him this season. So far, he has managed to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Henderson, who was the Orioles’ second-round pick in 2019, is hitting .313 with six home runs and leads the Low-A East League with 30 RBIs. He entered the 2021 season ranked as the No. 7 Orioles prospect, according to Baseball America.

“They worked me in, worked me away,” Henderson, 19, told BalimoreBaseball.com. “It just depends on what they see and what they feel like will work. I just have to make adjustments to what they’re pitching me. The quicker you can make the adjustments, the more successful you’ll be.”

Henderson has managed to pound the baseball despite not having a minor league season last year because of the pandemic. He took advantage of his time at the alternate training site in Bowie and also worked with his coaches throughout spring training.

It helped with the transition to a minor league season.

“With the instructional league, we got to play games there,” Henderson said. “I was able to get live at-bats and prepare myself. You can’t really prepare for the full games but this spring training really helped me get ready for the season and get a glimpse of what it would be like. I felt like it hadn’t been too much of a jump. I’m just trying to get into a good routine.”

Henderson was signed as a shortstop from John T. Morgan Academy, where he named the Alabama Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2019 after hitting 559/.641/1.225 (57-for-102) with 11 home runs, 69 runs, 75 RBI, and 28 stolen bases in 32 games.

He has split time between shortstop and third base at Delmarva and that versatility could expedite his ascent to the big-league club.

Henderson has been flexible with the change.

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“I’ve always been a shortstop growing up so I prefer that,” he said. “But I’d be more than happy to play whichever position to help at the big-league level.”

Henderson is also developing as a power hitter that could be a fixture in the middle of the Orioles’ lineup in the next couple of years. He began his professional career with the GCL Orioles in 2019, appearing in 29 games, slashing .259/.331/.370 (28-for-108) with eight extra-base hits.

“I felt the work I put in the offseason has been beneficial,” Henderson said. “I’ve gotten stronger ever since I stopped growing. I’ve been able to fill out my body and I work with all of the strength coaches here. They have a plan specifically for me. It’s been a huge help, and I have been able to see the benefits so far. I feel like I can hit for power and average. I feel like I can always make contact pretty well.”

Henderson was named the Low-A East League Player of the Week for the week of May 10-16 after going 10-for-23 (.435) with four doubles, a homer, and 13 RBIs during a six-game sweep of  Fredericksburg, a Washington Nationals affiliate. He also got a taste of major league spring training.

“I feel like it’s come to a lot better each and every week,” he said. “Hats off to my teammates for just getting on the base to put me in those situations. I’ve been able to come up with good plans each and every week and they’ve helped me be successful in those situations.”

Henderson has also made the necessary adjustments to life as a minor leaguer.

“When you’re getting done at 11 o’clock every night, a lot of restaurants are closed,” Henderson said. “I am just trying to find some good food to eat and keep your body healthy. That can be a challenge.”

His goal is to improve every day.

“I’m still just trying to play as hard as I can,” Henderson said. “God ultimately has a plan, and I’ll just follow that. If I just play well, hopefully, I’ll be able to move up soon. You never know.”

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Orioles20

    May 31, 2021 at 7:12 am

    I have to figure that Henderson will get promoted soon. Westburg has been promoted and so has Ortiz. Henderson looks like the real deal to be nineteen and hitting at the level he is as is impressive particularly after not playing for a year due to the pandemic.

  2. ptjhu

    May 31, 2021 at 7:51 am

    To paraphrase Christopher Walken (as Bruce Dickinson on SNL): “I gotta have more Todd Karpovich, baby!” As an Orioles’ fan for 46 years, the only hope I have is currently in A/AA ball, so the more I can read about Gunnar Henderson and the rest? The more I can tolerate the 2021-2022 seasons. But soon, things will be better in Birdland.

    In Elias, I trust.

    • ToddKarpovich

      May 31, 2021 at 11:16 am

      I can even play the cowbell!

  3. chico salmon

    May 31, 2021 at 8:20 am

    I went to a Shorebirds game last week against Lynchburg. It’s interesting how we search for comparisons in minor league players. I told my son that Westburg has a batting stance just like Mike Lowell, former Marlin and Red Sox. He’s built like Lowell. I can see him as our shortstop of the future. Henderson, on the other hand, is big and strong and reminds me of Chris Davis, physically. He’s also a really nice kid. He interacted with fans. Signed a lot of autographs. If he projects as a third baseman (making assumptions) that’s going to be a Hardy-Machado type left side of the infield. I’m not a scout, just a long suffering Orioles fan, but those two players are very impressive.

    • Baltimore Castaway

      May 31, 2021 at 8:49 am

      Great to hear…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        May 31, 2021 at 10:34 am

        BC, you are correct, it is great to hear. Just awesome if you ask me. This myth that Elias doesn’t promote players is absolutely hogwash! And this, after having no minor league games last year too.
        These promotions are just the start to the ascension to the big leagues. Nice to see Elias promoting guys not by the name on the back of the jersey but in their production on the field. Keep up the great work Mike Elias!
        With this years draft just around the corner, I’m hoping for another stable of great players coming to the team for this year. And for how this year is going for the parent team, the silver lining looks like another great draft class next year as well. Plus our new relationship with the overseas market we could be really well stocked with great players as well.
        And if the old timers on this site don’t like the progress the Orioles are making in this rebuild then they could always jump ship to TB since they admire 10 years of losing to get it right. Or just live out their twilight years in peace and quiet and let the professionals do their job, because their constant crying will not make the rebuild go any faster.

        • willmiranda

          May 31, 2021 at 12:12 pm

          As a candidate for your euthanasia program, I would like to say that I am very pleased and impressed that Gunnar Henderson is trusting in God’s plan rather than, you know, The Plan. After all, according to the latter, he is not due in Baltimore for about five years. And, yes, I hope observations like this may encourage people to think that the rebuild can go faster.

        • Hallbe62

          May 31, 2021 at 12:19 pm

          Who are you to decide what or how the Old Timers should critique this “Rebuild Process” ?

          Honestly, WE all can critique the rebuild as WE see fit.

          If I read your assessment and don’t agree, I have 2 choices.

          Ignore it & move along.

          Disagree, and without attacking you personally, tell you why.

          Either way, the “choices” you allow us “Old Timers” aren’t really in your purview to begin with, so if you don’t mind, I’ll be my own judge of this Orioles rebuild.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            May 31, 2021 at 2:17 pm

            Well said “Old Timer”. I wish I had your restraint As I’m sure you’re probably aware, that contributor is one that I did berate. Don’t let him suck you in as he did with me.

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            May 31, 2021 at 4:50 pm

            Well then you and others can keep crying and let me know where that gets you.

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            May 31, 2021 at 6:10 pm

            All I’m saying is the rebuild will take time. Mike Elias has stated that several times. That won’t change in the immediate future. He even stated that the parent team may even take a step backwards this year and they have done so. The parent team in general is not very good, everyone knows that. And it doesn’t take another Captain Obvious poster to state the obvious.
            So how you deal with that is up to you. You can do yourself and your blood pressure a favor and try and find the silver linings like I do or you can give yourself a heartache and dwell on the negative. I prefer to find the positives in the seas of negativity that “misery” and “company” keep posting. But again, that’s up to you.

  4. Orial

    May 31, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Gunnar could be leading O’s management down a trail they’re not too comfortable with. At 19 he may just be that good that at 21 he could be Major League ready. Elias and Co. may find it awfully difficult to fend off questions and demands that he come up. At 21 to have his service clock start ticking could prove quite interesting considering how frugal this organization tends to be. Kinda early to tell but could we see Rutchsman/Henderson both be forcing the O’s hand with early extensions? If course I’m way ahead myself(and hopefully not jinxing)here but–“one can wonder”.

    • chico salmon

      May 31, 2021 at 8:48 am

      You’d have to think the service time manipulation issue gets addressed in the next collective bargain negotiations. It’s a joke. The decision of when to promote these kids to the big leagues might take care of itself. We can hope for that.

      • Orioles20

        May 31, 2021 at 8:53 am

        I wouldn’t bank on the service time issue. It’s based on the calendar and how many days a player is on the roster but I don’t see how there going to come to an agreement on the amount of days needed to get service time. And the union and Manfred don’t seem to be able agree on anything.

  5. Bman

    May 31, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Os minors killing it. More high draft picks this summer, and it looks like next year too. Os have a growing wealth of young talent. The future is looking bright.

    • WorldlyView

      May 31, 2021 at 8:11 pm

      The Immediate future isn’t looking bright. Long-term, yes. AAA Norfolk, normally the immediate stepping stone to the majors, is most definitely NOT killing it.

  6. Icterus fan

    May 31, 2021 at 9:23 am

    I really admire this kid.

    At 19 years old, he seems to have great work ethic, genuine character and the skill set beyond merely baseball ability to succeed.

    Must have had some great influences along the way.
    Hope to see you soon, Gunnar!

    • CalsPals

      May 31, 2021 at 9:53 am

      Great name for a SS as well!!!…go O’s…

  7. millboy

    May 31, 2021 at 9:57 am

    When you have a plan in place and you believe in the plan, then when you have something like this losing streak happening, you don’t panic and start getting rid of guys and making random moves out of that sense of panic. As I have said before, professional athletes are very competitive and proud and this hurts every one of them more than we will ever know. So lighten up Francis and support the team even if you don’t agree with front office PLAN. Better days are coming…

    • Icterus fan

      May 31, 2021 at 11:57 am

      Precisely

    • WorldlyView

      May 31, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Better days are coming in 2024. I’m not overly excited.

  8. the blade

    May 31, 2021 at 10:24 am

    good articles Somewhere Out There is hope but we all know hope starts on the mound.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 31, 2021 at 10:27 am

      Great alias sir, he was an underappreciated piece to those great 60s and 70s teams.

      And I agree with you in that we’re going to need a few articles like this one, only regarding the pitchers!

  9. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 31, 2021 at 10:24 am

    Todd … Considering the subject matter of your reporting duties here at BB.com, I do believe you will fast become a favorite writer! Stories like Gunnar’s and Westburg are like rays of sunshine in a world of hurt around here.

    Thanks for your efforts. Look forward to MANY more like this, this season.

    • ToddKarpovich

      May 31, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Thanks, Boog Robinson Robinson!

  10. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 31, 2021 at 10:46 am

    This is a bit off topic, but it was mentioned in the article, sooooooo..,.

    Is there anyone around here that may agree with my opinion that the “alternate training” site last year may have been in some or even many ways, more beneficial than a season of games to the 60 players that were chosen to attend?

    If I understand it correctly, the 60 chosen players were mostly AA and AAA players sprinkled with the cream of the crop from A ball and lower? So, especially for those younger A ball players, to be getting extended time against higher end competition in what I’m sure was a more condensed and regimented manner … it just seems to me anyway … to be of much more value than competition against lower talent under normal circumstances. Look at the time and energy you saved by not having to board buses and wasting all that time traveling! Think about it … same bed every night.. report to the same field at the same time every day…play ball all day…go home …. rinse … repeat. This sounds pretty efficient to me?

    Everybody is talking of the lost season these players experienced, and while that is obviously true for the players that were not invited, I’m not sure it was for those players that attended this camp. It may have actually sped their MLB clock up a bit.

    Anybody agree?

    • Icterus fan

      May 31, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      Good points, especially the routine and efficiency perspectives.
      Adversity brings innovation, I reckon.

    • willmiranda

      May 31, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      I agree, Boog, with the need for consistency of performance as a goal and regularity of lifestyle as the means to achieve it. I hope it was as successful last year as you suggest. On the other hand, I find the Norfolk shuttle to be the exact opposite, especially for pitchers. The bubble players are having their habits repeatedly disrupted, and then they are criticized for being inconsistent.

    • CalsPals

      May 31, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      I totally agree, someone referenced this last yr, that the camp was a great success, they even mentioned certain players by name & said how difficult it was to get them out, also someone earlier mentioned how good the minors looked turning double plays, may have been because of the extra work they got regarding turning two…go O’s…

  11. Bmore

    May 31, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    Is it just me or does it seem like the Orioles leave their prospects in the minors forever

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 31, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      So far that’s been the case with the current regime.

    • Icterus fan

      May 31, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      They need seasoning.
      Like Old Bay on French fries.

  12. CGarcia

    May 31, 2021 at 6:35 pm

    Just looking at the photo associated with the article, it seems Westburg has two inches over Henderson. Both are listed at 6’3, have you seen them in person to confirm there is a significant height difference? Also, he looks like he hasn’t hit the orioles lifting program yet.

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