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Prospect Retrospective: Ronny Henriquez


Twins Daily Contributor

As the season winds down, many teams will give prospects their first shot at the big-league level. Ronny Henriquez was part of a significant trade this winter and made his debut earlier this week.

Image courtesy of Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

 

The Texas Rangers signed Ronny Henriquez as a 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He was given a $10,000 signing bonus, which can be seen as a bargain on the international market. His small stature likely drove down his value as he was 5-foot-10 and 150 pounds back in 2017. The Rangers waited until the 2018 season for Henriquez to make his professional debut. 

In the 2018 Dominican Summer League, Henriquez showed why the Rangers were impressed with him. In 11 starts (58 innings), he posted a 1.55 ERA with a 0.78 WHIP and a 79-to-8 strikeout to walk ratio. He dominated opposing hitters as he held batters to a .466 OPS while striking out in nearly 38% of their at-bats. He’d need to prove those numbers weren’t a fluke as the team moved him stateside for 2019. 

At Low-A, Henriquez struggled for the first time in his professional career, but it would be tough for any pitcher to live up to his professional debut. In 21 appearances, he posted a 4.50 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP and 10.9 K/9. He allowed three runs or fewer in 18 of his 21 appearances. Henriquez was nearly three years younger than the average age of the competition at his level, with all but 10 of his at-bats coming against older batters. 

Henriquez spent the 2020 COVID season living at the Rangers village dorm in Arizona, which provided access to the team’s spring training facilities. He was allowed to work out with protocols in place, but like many prospects, he didn’t have formal workouts until the team’s fall development camp. Henriquez must have impressed during camp because Texas continued to be aggressive with him in 2021. 

With a new minor league season, Henriquez began the year at High-A, where he posted a 3.75 ERA in five starts. Then he was promoted to Double-A, where he was 3.7 years younger than the average age of the competition. In 16 appearances (11 starts), he posted a 5.04 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP. He continued to strike out more than ten batters per nine innings, but home runs became an issue as he allowed 1.9 HR/9 after his promotion. There were areas for improvement, but he’d shown enough to be added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster. 

One of Minnesota’s targets for the 2022 offseason was acquiring a starting shortstop. The Twins dealt Mitch Garver to the Rangers for Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Henriquez. During his age-22 season, Henriquez was five years younger than Triple-A competition. He made 14 starts and ten relief appearances with a 5.66 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. He only faced a younger batter in one plate appearance this season, but he continued to have 10 K/9. 

Many consider Henriquez a top-20 prospect in the Twins organization. He has three above-average pitches that he can use to get outs. His fastball can hit in the upper 90s and has high spin rates that help him miss bats up in the zone. Henriquez also uses a slider and a changeup that has improved as he has climbed the minor league ladder. He will likely need to repeat Triple-A next season as the team decides whether or not he can be a starter.

What have been your initial impressions of Henriquez? Do you think he fits into the team’s long-term plans? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 

 


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My initial impression is that he is young and has very good stuff but struggles with command.  The question is will he further develop his command, pitch selection, and approach and become a valuable piece going forward, or will he be a Pagan and show great stuff but never put it all together.  I think next year will be a big year for him.  If he makes strides and harnesses his potential, I think he will be in the bullpen sooner than later.  As he is very young, I have a lot of hope.

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He just gives up too much contact right now and guys are barreling his pitches for home runs.  I mean 99 hits in 95 innings is gonna hurt you and his HR rate is a killer as well.  Something isn't working. Maybe @bean5302 can take a deeper dive into the numbers but right now there is something about that is too predictable for the hitters he is facing.  Fix that and he looks like he could be dominant.  Keep things the same and he will never make it. Given his build and the results so far I think a reliever role fits him best but I guess we will see what happens next year.  At least he is young for the level.  There is time to fix stuff.

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1 hour ago, Dman said:

He just gives up too much contact right now and guys are barreling his pitches for home runs.  I mean 99 hits in 95 innings is gonna hurt you and his HR rate is a killer as well.  Something isn't working. Maybe @bean5302 can take a deeper dive into the numbers but right now there is something about that is too predictable for the hitters he is facing.  Fix that and he looks like he could be dominant.  Keep things the same and he will never make it. Given his build and the results so far I think a reliever role fits him best but I guess we will see what happens next year.  At least he is young for the level.  There is time to fix stuff.

At a glance, he looks like a younger, better version of Drew Strotman by the numbers. Henriquez generates a lot of whiffs, but as you say, there seems to be something batters are really squaring up. It's also not like Henriquez is super wild. He's only hit two batters since May 22, and those two were in back to back games. I suspect Henriquez is just lacking command of a pitch or two and it gets clobbered from time to time, but it's just a guess. Consistent high strikeouts and whiff rates with pretty solid walk rates. Just a lot of hits. It's not a combo seen much.

But, I'm just guessing. Giving up a ton of hits feels like a bigger problem than struggles with walks so I haven't really been that into Henriquez.

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He is young. Not sure if want to give up on him as a rotation arm, but right now he should be able to fill a long relief role well (2-3 innings). If he can cut down the long ball, he could be a great set-up or even potential closer material.

Glad the Twins are giving him a looksee.

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2 hours ago, miller761 said:

Rating prospects is a crapshoot. Some of the best fail and some of the under rated make it in the big league. He deserve his chance - let his performance tell his story.

What constitutes deserving a chance in your mind? I'm genuinely curious as Henriquez was not successful at AAA for instance.

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I wasn't able to watch his debut, but from what I read it sounds like he was pretty decent the first 3 innings he threw before the wheels came off in his 4th inning. The velocity and K numbers are excellent. Interesting that in 2019 and 2021 his hits and WHIP were very solid. In 2019 and 2022 both were back up higher than you'd like, mostly due to hits, I'd say, as his BB have never been through the roof. 

I think bean5302 may have stated it best on an earlier post; if the K's are there and the velocity is there and he's not plunking batters or producing extreme BB numbers, it would seem he's just losing control and allowing too many hittable pitches at times. (I'm paraphrasing a bit). 

He didn't turn 22 until June. Like SWR, he's very young, especially to be at AA already. While not a big kid, I do think, sometimes, the whole length/downward plane idea is, shall we say, inaccurate. Not every successful SP is/has to be 6' 1" and above. Just in recent history I'm thinking of Strotman and Berrios. Obviously there have been others. 

I agree he deserves a chance, which to me means holding on to him and seeing what happens in 2023 and how much improvement he makes. He'll still only be 22yo when next season starts. I'm guessing it's his "consistency" of control that is the issue. To clarify, BAD CONTROL leads to WP and BB and HB, as well as hard contact, no matter what you throw. I don't know that he's shown that. Lacking "consistent" control is having good stuff and getting guys out and producing high K numbers but leaving too many hittable pitches in the zone at times. I absolutely hate using him as an example, but think Pagan. 

At only 22yo, there's a real chance he finds greater consistency in his delivery and release to harness his stuff and be a quality pitcher. And while I'd probably leave him in the rotation at St Paul for now, I'm not going to project, at this time, whether he's going to remain a starter or move to the pen. Too early to say.

*A young arm like his could, of course, find early success as a potential middle reliever at first, before moving to the rotation.

 

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Henriquez deserves his chance at the MLB level for the rest of the year. More than likely he spends next year in the minors. Putting a rating on young pitchers is easy to do. Their development is fluid from year to year. Many top prospects don't make it and some come out of nowhere. Having as many young talented arms at AAA is a great asset. That is what we will have next year and they will sort themselves out there or in the majors. Henriquez is among those talented arms.

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