It's been over a week since we discussed the future of an Orioles prospect, so today seems like a good time to hold another debate.
Last Tuesday, we talked about infielder Ryan Adams. Most readers agreed that the 21-year-old second baseman would never play in the major leagues if he is unable to reduce the amount of errors.
Some people, however, think the defensive miscues will decrease as Adams climbs through the Orioles' minor league system because more repetitions will help to improve his skills. I believe that's a valid observation, but Adams will need to work hard on his defense in order to win a permanent role in the majors.
Speaking of above-average hitters who struggle defensively, let's ponder the future of Tyler Henson today. The Orioles recently announced the decision to move 2006 first-round pick Bill Rowell to right field for the upcoming season, which clears space for Henson to take over third base for the Single-A Frederick Keys.
Henson batted .265 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs in 127 games for the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds last season. The 21-year-old third baseman collected 20 stolen bases and 25 doubles for the Shorebirds.
While he showed potential to become a power hitter in Delmarva, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound infielder committed 29 errors at third base for the Shorebirds. Like Adams, Henson will need to cut down on the errors as he climbs through the organization if he hopes to earn a spot with the Orioles in the future.
Henson will also need to improve his plate discipline. The Orioles' fifth-round selection in the 2006 MLB draft struck out 121 times in 2008, and he only earned 25 walks during the entire season. Henson improved dramatically in this category while playing for the West Oahu CaneFires in Hawaii Winter Baseball. Remarkably, he led the league with 25 walks in 35 games for the CaneFires.
Henson hit .275 with five home runs and 32 RBIs while splitting the 2007 season between the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds and Frederick. He batted .289 with 18 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 31 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 67 games for the IronBirds. In six games with the Keys at the end of the season, Henson was 1-for-17 with one RBI.
Like I said above, look for Henson to be the everyday third baseman in Frederick this season. I have a feeling that he is headed for a breakout year, so I predict Henson will hit around .275 with 15-20 home runs and 70-80 RBIs. The organization seems to appreciate his speed, so expect 20-30 stolen bases from Henson in 2009. He also will be among the leaders in the Carolina League in doubles, in my opinion.
What are your thoughts about Henson? Do you think he'll make progress with his defense and plate discipline in 2009? What are your statistical expectations for Henson this season?
On a related note, how do you feel about the Orioles' decision to move Rowell to the outfield? With Nick Markakis entrenched in right field for the Orioles, does it surprise you that the organization didn't move Rowell to another position?
Let me hear your thoughts about both topics.
Check out previous installments of "Predict the future" by clicking on the links below: