August 17, 2012
Draft Day Deliveries, Part Three
Back in June, I broke down the top pitchers selected in the Amateur Player Draft, including the 11 hurlers who were chosen among the first 22 picks. The revised signing deadline has hastened the process of becoming a pro, with many of this year's picks getting a head start on spinning yarn in the pros. The high school pitchers who were taken at the tail-end of the first round are earning a taste of the rookie leagues, while their collegiate counterparts begin the climb from a higher rung on the developmental ladder.
We left off at pick number 22, Marcus Stroman, after which teams avoided pitchers for the next seven selections. The Yankees and Red Sox snagged moundsmen with the final two picks of the round—a logical strategy, considering the dilapidated state of pitching in the AL East—kicking off a string of four pitchers in a row. Picks numbered in the thirties may not have the reputation of those chosen earlier on draft day, but the supplemental round featured some pitchers with stunning mechanics that challenged anyone at the top of the draft.
Thirtieth pick, Yankees: Ty Hensley, RHP, High School (OK)
The Yankees may have been surprised to see Hensley's name still on the board when their first pick came around at number 30, and MLB Network's Jonathan Mayo correctly predicted their selection during the telecast. Hensley is old for a high schooler, having turned 19 on July 30th, and an athlete's age relative to competition is an important factor when evaluating statistical context. There is reason to be wary of a big kid with an advantageous birth date, particularly on the mound, as an oversized player who was the star of his little league or travel-ball team is more likely to be overworked during these crucial stages of development. Hensley signed for a cool $1.2 million. and his six-inning introduction to the Gulf Coast League has featured plenty of true outcomes.
The most glaring aspect of Hensley's mechanical profile is a vicious head-jerk late in the delivery, with exaggerated spine-tilt as the throwing arm accelerates into release point. The strategy creates an artificially-raised arm-slot, and though he might reap some benefits with respect to downhill plane, it comes at the cost of release distance while creating an obstacle to pitch command. He demonstrates strong torque that relies heavily on hip rotation to generate arm speed, though the flailing nature of his arms during the rotational phases could perpetuate the “violent” label.