We’re almost through our draft profiles, folks. Sorry this has spilled out later into the summer than anticipated, but we’ll get there. The plan is to cover the first ten rounds, and today we are up to ninth rounder Spencer Henson.

Background

Henson, a big first baseman listed at 6-2 and 235 pounds, is from Oklahoma. Following his high school career, he decided not to stray too far from home. He committed to Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, where he mainly pitched in his freshman year.

Henson was recruited as a two-way player, as he noted in an interview with Pinstriped Prospects. Despite that, he only tallied 20 plate appearances in his first collegiate season. Most of his work was out of the bullpen, where the righty threw 22.2 innings. He struck out plenty of opponents (25), but allowed too many baserunners (25 hits and 12 walks) which resulted in a 6.35 ERA.

After my freshman year of college, I showed up that next fall, expecting to be a pitcher only because there was a fifth year, my freshman year. And so still, I still got recruited as a two-way, so I played two way and ended up just having a perfect fall and won the spot at first base and kind of carried over into the spring. Just took off.

spencer henson to pinstriped prospects

Spencer’s right, he did take off in his sophomore season. He slashed .364/.433/.541 in 240 plate appearances while only toeing the slab once all year.

Though his second year at Oral Roberts was a big success, Henson really found his power stroke in his junior season. He slugged 19 homers and 11 doubles in 230 trips to the plate and wound up with a .362/.509/.768 triple-slash. To put the cherry on top, he tallied seven saves in ten relief appearances. No, that doesn’t mean he’s a two-way prospect, as he was a bit fortunate on the mound in spite of a 2.61 ERA. He allowed 13 hits and 7 walks in 10.1 innings.

Lastly, his biography on Oral Roberts’ website notes that he grew up a Yankees fan and Derek Jeter was his favorite player. I definitely recommend reading Pinstriped Prospects interview with him for more on being drafted by the team of his fandom.

What do the scouts say?

Reports on Henson are pretty scarce. MLB Pipeline nor Fangraphs have public scouting information on the first baseman, but at least Baseball America (subs. required) has something, albeit brief.

BA’s snippet notes that Henson, a right-handed hitter, has the ability to hit for power to the opposite field. Further, he’s a pretty good athlete despite virtually being the same size as Luke Voit. And finally, like so many bat-first late round college picks, there’s questions about his ability to to make contact consistently. He struck out over 22 percent of the time in college.

Signing bonus and what’s next

Henson signed for $137,500, a tad south of his pick’s slot value of $148,900.

The first baseman was sent to rookie-level Pulaski to get his feet wet in pro ball before getting a bump up to short-season A-ball with Staten Island. He’s hit quite well thus far and has recorded a 161 wRC+. However, he hasn’t played since July 23rd for undisclosed reasons. It’s plausible that he’s injured.

I don’t have a good guess as to where he’ll start 2020, but it wouldn’t shock me to see him with Staten Island once more. As a ninth rounder not necessarily on the prospect radar, things could be a little too crowded in full season ball to start. Then again, as a college bat, he could be ready for Single-A Charleston especially with his performance this year in mind.

My take

As a first baseman only prospect, Henson will really need to hit to make his way up the chain. He’s definitely got the power, and it’s nice to grab a guy with a carrying skill like that in a late round.

He reminds me a bit of Chris Gittens, a 12th round junior college draftee in the in 2014. Gittens, currently with Trenton, is also a big first baseman with loads of power. Though it’s taken him a while to reach Double-A, he’s raked at the level. It’s fairly rare for a late round pick to succeed in the minors, so even if Gittens doesn’t ever make the majors, he still was a good pick. If that’s the road Henson goes down, we’ll say the same in a few years.