Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
  • Ronny Henriquez Has Earned a Shot


    Cody Pirkl

    By the time Ronny Henriquez debuted in 2022 many fans were likely already tuned out, which is fair. His late season appearance however shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to the role he could play in 2023.

    Image courtesy of Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Twins Video

     

    Ronny Henriquez was acquired in the Mitch Garver deal and was seen as a middling starting pitching prospect. The ERA results weren’t there, but at 21 years old, Henriquez posted a 25%+ K rate at every stop in the minors. His generous listing at 5’10 raised questions about his ability to stand up to a starter’s workload, and those concerns escalated when he posted a near 6 ERA in AAA out of St. Paul’s rotation in 14 starts. His strikeouts continued to impress however, and he was finally moved to a relief role toward the end of the season.

    As the Twins faded out of contention, they finally began cycling in younger talent instead of pitchers such as Joe Smith and Tyler Thornburg. In the case of Henriquez, what we saw was very encouraging.

    As we’ve seen with Twins pitchers who boast plus sliders, the Twins weren’t shy about having Henriquez go back to the well on his best pitch. He threw his breaking ball nearly 50% of the time as his primary pitch, and in his short stint it proved to be lethal. Despite being by far his most used pitch, the slider induced a whiff rate of over 31%. Not only did it avoid being hit, it allowed a .136 batting average and .227 slugging % when hitters did make contact. His secondary pitch being the changeup only drew a 22.6% whiff rate, but it too allowed a sub .200 average and sub .300 slugging % against as well. Henriquez flashed two plus offerings to get both left and right handed hitters out consistently.

    The issue with Henriquez was the fastball. His main concern in St. Paul was the long ball, and the culprit was front and center when he joined the Twins. In his admittedly limited action, his four seam allowed a .400 batting average and staggering 1.400 slugging percentage. Hitters teed off on the pitch, and it’s not difficult to see why:

    The good news on the rocky debut of his fastball is that the adjustment is obvious and likely easily fixed: Keep it out of the heart of the zone. The heat map at the top of the zone is fantastic. Adjusting the trend in the middle of the zone could raise his game to new levels in a bullpen role.

    Henriquez shouldn’t be an offspeed needy, fastball avoidant pitcher. The 55 scouting grade on his heater is easily justified, as the pitch has been noted to have tremendous ride and can often be pushed into the upper 90s when needed.

    While the slider was the eye popping weapon he showed in his debut, it’s possible the fastball could become just as big of a pitch moving forward despite how bad it looked through his first 11+ innings. Even pushing the pitch to average would make Henriquez a legitimate bullpen piece.

    Despite being just 22 years old, it can be argued that Henriquez’s days in the minors should be over. With his three-pitch mix one could argue Henriquez should still be working toward a future rotation spot. The issue is that Henriquez is currently on the 40-man roster and would likely be 7th on the starting pitching depth chart at best. He’d have to have a good bit of success in AAA before being entrusted in such a role with the big league club. Much like what’s been argued with fellow top prospect Matt Canterino, it seems like a waste of time to slow cook prospects who appear to be able to help the club right now in pursuit of the very small chance that they can latch on as a starter.

    It’s not entirely clear what the Twins offseason plan is regarding the bullpen, but we can assume nothing big is coming. At most they’ll likely sign a Joe Smith caliber pitcher to fill some innings and try to milk some value out of. They may make a waiver claim on a pitcher who does one thing well in pursuit of the next Matt Wisler. Instead we should be hoping for the Twins to turn to one of their young upside arms, a commodity that has been very difficult for this front office to come by.

    Rather than spending a few million on another veteran reliever to spend the last year of their career in Minnesota, why not turn to the 22 year old with two plus offspeed pitches and a high 90s fastball? Henriquez could take a low leverage, possibly even multi inning role and get a chance to work his way up the depth chart. If he struggles he can be optioned for another arm as opposed to the yearly bounce back candidate signing that sticks on the roster far too long due to their veteran status.

    Last year the Twins may have leaned too heavily on their internal pitching production. This year they have much more in place, and gambling on Henriquez in a minor role seems like a worthwhile bet. Ronny Henriquez should be in the Twins Opening Day bullpen

     

    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    — Become a Twins Daily Caretaker

     Share


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Featured Comments

    I think given his size and the fact he has a fastball he can run into the upper 90's he looks like a much needed bullpen arm to me.  This bullpen can use more high octane arms and if he is ready he could mix well with Duran and Alcala.

    If he does well in the pen they could throw him into a rotation spot in 2024 when Gray, Maeda and Mahle might no longer be with the club.  Sale started as a bullpen arm so they could still work him in as a starter after using him in the bullpen if they think that makes sense down the road.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Ronny Henriquez should be a depth option, he’s a good piece but shouldn’t be looked at to start opening day. Last year was proof this team needs a serious amount of depth, and Henriquez could easily provide in that position. I think he’ll get his shot in 2023, just not immediately, and that’s okay.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I have not seen enough of him to agree with this essay.  A short stint at the end of the season has had a lot of players look good only to be exposed in a full season.  I hope you are right, but for now he is one of many we hope might give us one really good RP. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Cody, Your excellent article convinced me. Let's see what Ronny 

    5 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

    No doubt he’ll get a shot to earn the 8th spot in the bullpen in spring training. He’ll likely be a long shot, however. It will likely be a 4 man competition for 1 spot - Henriquez, Winder, Sands, and Balazovic competing for long relief. 

    Of these 4 pitchers for the 8th relief pitcher, right now my choice would be Henriquez. Let's give them all a chance in S.T.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I’m all for giving him a shot to tear it up in the bullpen, but I don’t know that he “earned” anything. He was pretty terrible last year despite his stuff.

    Not entirely his fault, the Twins had zero business pushing him as a starter most of the year. It was clear from the get go that his only path to success was in the pen.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I feel his best bet is to start in the majors as the long man.  2 - 3 innings when the game is not on the line either way.  Or when we are a couple of runs down and need a stop for 2 innings.  We have a lot of possible starters, time to find some inning depth in the pen. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    17 hours ago, Linus said:

    No way do you just pencil him in. He has promise but has proven nothing. He’s depth right now and will surely get a chance by the end of the season. 

    Normally I'd agree but I think we've seen that the alternative to going to the young, unproven upside arm is likely the Twins signing a Steve Cishek or Hunter Strickland level reliever and letting them stick on the roster with a 5 ERA until August just because they're a veteran. 

    If you want to argue for a competition between Henriquez and say Josh Winder in the spring, sure. I just think that if they bring in an external option for the bullpen it'll be someone who shouldn't be signed by a competing team and winds up retiring after one last awful season in a Twins uniform circa Joe Smith. They don't meaningfully invest in the bullpen which is fine but if they're looking to fill out the fringes, Henriquez is a better candidate than whatever 35 year old is still a free agent in February.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    36 minutes ago, Cody Pirkl said:

    Normally I'd agree but I think we've seen that the alternative to going to the young, unproven upside arm is likely the Twins signing a Steve Cishek or Hunter Strickland level reliever and letting them stick on the roster with a 5 ERA until August just because they're a veteran. 

    If you want to argue for a competition between Henriquez and say Josh Winder in the spring, sure. I just think that if they bring in an external option for the bullpen it'll be someone who shouldn't be signed by a competing team and winds up retiring after one last awful season in a Twins uniform circa Joe Smith. They don't meaningfully invest in the bullpen which is fine but if they're looking to fill out the fringes, Henriquez is a better candidate than whatever 35 year old is still a free agent in February.

    No argument there but there is another option. They could go and sign um an actual good reliever. If they won’t then that is on the FO. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Interesting young man, Cody.  
     

    Not a clue how this will pan out.  So many unknowns.  Will Winder be healthy and pitching like we saw in much of 2021?  Will Alcala be healthy?  If so, will he be ready for prime time or need several months at St Paul?  Will Moran fine tune his control and be the real deal?  Or will he need another stint across the river?

    Lets hope all these questions are positive and the Twins have a shut down pen.  I, however, would love to see them sign another stud late inning arm.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    4 hours ago, roger said:

    Lets hope all these questions are positive and the Twins have a shut down pen.  I, however, would love to see them sign another stud late inning arm.

    Especially since relievers are the most fungible of assets at the trade deadline.  Your young guys all matured at once and you now have too many good relievers?  Not a problem, sell the old guy you signed last December, for a minor league prospect, and move on with your pennant drive.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    On 12/3/2022 at 12:22 PM, Linus said:

    No argument there but there is another option. They could go and sign um an actual good reliever. If they won’t then that is on the FO. 

    I'd love to see them bring in Kenley Jansen or someone like that, that'd be a super fun addition. They've just never shown an interest in spending money that way. Maybe after their process has derailed the last two seasons they're willing to change it up, but I wouldn't expect it until we actually see them pull off a signing like that.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites



    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...