Infielder Gunnar Henderson, the No. 3 prospect in the Orioles organization according to MLB Pipeline, has begun the 2022 season with Double-A Bowie.
The Baysox are currently 9-11 as part of MLB Pipeline’s top-rated farm system entering play May 3. Henderson has played in 20 games for the Baysox this season, and the 6-foot-2, 210-pound infielder is hitting .250/.427/.438 with three home runs.
Though the Orioles have been struggled mightily the last few years, their farm system should give fans some hope. The Orioles appear to have a bright future, and the club could return to relevance sooner than observers tend to believe.
Henderson, 20, and the rest of the Baysox eventually want to win a World Series with the Orioles.
“We don’t sit there and talk about it because nothing is set in stone. You can talk about it all you want, but until you put the work in and actually accomplish it, that’s when it matters,” Henderson said Glenn Clark Radio April 20. “We all have that mindset where nothing is set. We go into each day on our mindset of get better each and every day and just take care of one day at a time. I feel like if we keep doing that, we’ll have a really good shot.”
Henderson is sharing time at shortstop in Bowie with fellow infielders Jordan Westburg and Joey Ortiz, making for some great competition for playing time on the left side of the infield. Westburg is hitting .200/.304/.438 with five home runs this year, while Ortiz is hitting .188/.260/.275 and nine RBIs.
“We all want to see each other do the best we possibly can,” Henderson said. “All in all, we want to win a World Series with the Orioles. We all help each other. It’s like a friendly competition. … The only thing we can do is to control what we can control and play hard each and every night. Whatever works out will ultimately work out.”
Henderson didn’t play in the minors in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021, he spent time with Low-A Delmarva and High-A Aberdeen before joining Bowie for a five-game stint and the playoffs. He hit .258/.350/.476 with 17 home runs.
Henderson wants to take a step forward this year.
“I feel the work I put in this offseason is really paying off,” Henderson said. “I was working a lot on just flattening out the swing a little bit. … I know it’s going to come around. Just learning each and every day and I feel like the stuff that I’m picking up here at Double-A is really going to help me hopefully at Triple-A and hopefully the majors.”
Henderson is from Selma, Ala., and had committed to play college baseball at Auburn University. In his senior year of high school, he won Alabama Player of the Year as he hit .559 with 11 home runs and 75 RBIs. Despite committing to Auburn, the Orioles selected him with the 42nd overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He decided to sign with the club, forgoing college.
Seeing his name climb up the prospect rankings list at the age of 20, Henderson could easily let that get to his head. However, he remembers what his parents taught him when he was growing up to maintain humility.
“Growing up, my parents really instilled the mindset of never forget where you came from and always staying humble,” Henderson said. “I’ve never thought about it, I just always go out there. I go in, get the work in and it all doesn’t matter until you actually prove it. I have that in the back of my mind, just go in each and every day and try to get 1 percent better.”
For more from Henderson, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Bill Vaughan/Bowie Baysox