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Arizona Diamondbacks select Michigan LHP Tommy Henry with the 74th pick

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The Diamondbacks go with another underslot college hurler.

Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-L

Baseball America:
Henry has improved each season at Michigan, culminating in a strong junior season that has improved his draft stock significantly in a class lacking top-end college arms. Henry has a solid three-pitch mix, including a fastball that sits 91-93 mph early in games and a slider and changeup that both project as above-average offerings. He doesn’t have a high spin rate on his slider (2,200 rpm), but he makes the most out of what he has by creating good angle and tunneling the pitch effectively. Henry has built up a solid track record in the Big 10 and as a junior is posting the best strikeout-to-walk rate of his career (5.15) through nine starts.

Fangraphs:

Was 87-91 last spring and on the Cape, but stuff has ticked up in dominating statistical start to the spring. Higher slot and extension means the fastball is TrackMan-friendly and plays up. Missed being sophomore eligible last year by about a week.

James’ Takeaway: Henry is one of those pitchers that squeezes every ounce of performance he can get out of stuff that simply is not nearly as good as the results would suggest. Henry’s calling card is his strike throwing ability. Henry is known for filling the zone with strikes and limiting the number of pitches the opposition gets to see. This helps his three-pitch mix play up some. Stamina is a big concern for Henry. There are real questions about whether or not he will hold up over a full season. He’ll get the chance early on, but if he experiences a mid-season velocity drop again once he gets to his first professional season of ball, expect him to move to the bullpen. With three solid-average pitches and a propensity for throwing strikes from the left side, he’ll have every opportunity to advance so long as he continues to get every last ounce of potential out of his pitches.

Mike’s Thoughts:

The run on college pitchers has started for the Diamondbacks. After going with 3 prep talents at 16, 26, and 33, they have taken three college arms. The third college arm is Michigan lefty Tommy Henry. Henry is a command/control pitcher who pitches to contact, but his stuff did not hold up over the second half of the season, which caused him to drop to the second competitive balance round. Henry likely will be an underslot signing, which has given the Dbacks three straight underslot guys in a row. Perhaps they’ll make another upside play in Round 3?

Upside

Depending on which version of Henry shows up, we’re talking about a bottom of the rotation starter or a late-inning lefty. Early in the college season, Henry was hitting low 90s with the fastball with a high spin rate and an average slider that tunnels well off the 4-seamer. Later in the season, the fastball dropped into the upper 80s and that ended up downgrading his other stuff. He does have a solid change-up, which will be useful against RHHs in a starting or 1-inning capacity. From a projectability standpoint, I think his ultimate role will be similar to how the Dbacks utilize T.J. McFarland as a innings-eating lefty.

Concerns

Henry’s stuff declined later in the year, so you have to be worried about durability this year. His stuff is merely average in terms of a starting pitcher profile in the best case scenario, but his command and pitchability will allow his stuff to play a bit better like the case is with Taylor Clarke.

ETA

There really isn’t much projectability in Henry’s game, he’ll either sink or swim as a starting pitcher prospect. He’ll get early looks at Hillsboro and Kane County to see if his advanced feel for pitching plays up against younger competition. The one potential plus pitch he has (high spin 4SFB if velo is in the 90s) could make him playable in the back-end of the bullpen if the slider can improve in shorter stints. I’d say we’re looking at a 2023 ETA though with at least 2 years to develop as a starter.