Help ‘sophomore swagger’ Gunnar Henderson take control of Double-A. The following major companies could be. – Baltimore Sun

When the Orioles brought their potential team to the majors, it wasn’t the first time they promoted Gunnar Henderson in a playoff.

Last year, Henderson joined Double-A Bowie in the final week of the year to wrap up his first full season in professional baseball. He struggled, playing half of his games in between the regular league and post-season, but was involved in a playoff. The latter hinted at what was to come. Henderson learned from the experience and dominated his return to Double-A in 2022, beginning the ascent that reached Baltimore to aid the Orioles’ surprise bid.

“Although a year ago, you look at him physically, and you see he looks like a man now,” said Orioles’ co-batting coach Ryan Fuller, who was Bowie’s bats coach last season. “He seems to belong in the major leagues, as I said last year, ‘Well, maybe he needs another year in Triple-A. “But seeing his development in less than a year is impressive, and the confidence he’s got here, you kind of forget that he’s only been here for a few weeks at the moment.”

Henderson’s transformation into Double-A shows the benefits this time around in the major leagues, even as Baltimore’s chances in the playoffs dwindle, he will have in 2023, when he has a month of major league experience under his belt.

When he was 20 years old, Henderson was 0.312 with an OPS of 1.025 Come back with Bowie this spring to earn an upgrade to Triple-A Norfolk. He attributed this success to confidence in his ability to handle the level after seeing it already the year before. Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias said he believes this kind of experience can benefit a player.

“I’m a big believer in the need to taste a little level, kind of punch your nose, and then come home for the winter and work on the things you might need to do to get back to that level, and then move on, I think that’s a case in point,” Elias said. And he basically proved that he shouldn’t be in Double-A with him playing there this year.”

In a new subsidiary, Henderson posted a .288 hit rate with .894 OPS with Norfolk. There, turning 21, he was successful on the course, playing in the MLB All-Star Futures Game and becoming the No. 1 player in the game before being promoted to Baltimore, where he featured in his second bat career. He’s racked up .293/.356/.439 in the Grand Slams and took a landslide victory in one of two Orioles wins this week.

“That experience [at Bowie] “It helped me a lot, being able to get into playoffs, especially pro football,” Henderson said. “That was my first experience with that, and being able to do that and get here and get an idea of ​​the mentality you have to be in and how to help the team win in any situation, I feel like that was really a huge help.”

Fuller noted how smoother Henderson’s left swing became. They initially worked together at the Orioles’ alternate training site after the pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season, which should have been Henderson’s first full campaign in professional football after he was in the second round of the Baltimore selection in 2019. In the alternate location — Also in Bowie – Henderson was a teenager facing the best promotion opportunities in the organization and navigating between camp and majors. K . challenge The youngest player out thereHe settled down and showed his potential.

Fuller described Henderson’s hand movement early in his career as “opportunistic,” but was able to clean that up to produce a swing that skips levels and stays in the strike zone, allowing Henderson to drive balls in the other direction even if he’s late and effectively pull balls if he’s early.

“I’m just impressed, how athletic he is,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “For that size, to have that speed, arm strength, just the way his feet work, like everything was really impressive, bat speeds different than I’ve seen in the past, power and racquet speed, the way he can cover and put really good swings in there. You feel it When he’s there, he has a chance to do some damage.”

Madeleine Rochman, who preceded Henderson Not only in Draft 2019 But also as the best player on the Orioles and baseball team, he quickly made an impression on Hyde with the quality of his bats, and Hyde said Henderson did the same. His eyes on Henderson featured frugal, largely at the mini-camp and the occasional spring training match, but in watching him daily for the past two weeks, Hyde has seen a similar approach, much the same as Henderson had shown in the minors.

“You never know how it translates to the major leagues, frankly,” Hyde said. “Sometimes the moment can get too big for the young players. They try to do a lot, and it’s very consistent, honestly. He puts in good swings in the strikes. He takes close pitches.

“For them to go through this [playoff atmosphere] This year, it will be huge for them in the future. It would be fun to watch them grow up.”

Fuller can remember, being in his first year as a senior hits league coach and feeling like he’s learned a lot throughout the season. He thinks Henderson will gain a lot from this month.

“Every day you learn how things are done, and you gain some confidence,” Fuller said. “When you look at Nathan Evaldi, Rich Hill, all those shooters you saw on TV when you were young, and now you compete with them — to know that you’re competing with them and that you belong here, I think that feeds confidence every day. Even if you don’t work out from them, it’s a tool Educational and educational for next year when you encounter them again. We are really excited about the development of Gunnar.”

This past July the Washington National visited Camden Yards and the Orioles swept 110 losses in the end, triggering a rebuild that led to franchise cornerstone trades Max Scherzer, Tria Turner and Juan Soto. With the Orioles’ post-season hopes narrowing, the worst team in the National League can return the favor somewhat. The team’s two-game series starting Tuesday marks one of Baltimore’s two remaining series against a team outside of both the Eastern American League and the playoff center.

Even if the Orioles aren’t able to take their chance against the Nationals, they can make up for it over the weekend in their three-game visit to Toronto, where they will take on the Blue Jays they’re tracking by 5 1/2 games for a wild spot.

Rutschman’s influence on both sides of the ball remains undeniable. On the board, it cuts 0.22/.370/542, the only regular oriole posting an OPS above 0.762 for the week. Behind the painting, his absence was noticeable, as it was often. In losing six of their past eight games, Baltimore has gone 0 for 3 when Rutschman didn’t start in the catcher.

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In the year, the Orioles were 42-26 with Rutschman as their primary striker, running at a pace of 100 wins during a 162-game season. When he’s not there seated on the first court of the game, Baltimore is 31-41 overall and 15-17 when he’s only thinking about the games he was on the roster.

For the first time in a while, there are plenty of options to choose from, with the anemic attack, a short start to break out of the year’s best rotation period, Felix Bautista’s bout of arm fatigue and a 17-4 blast loss against Boston among them. But it all culminated in a home stay that represented an opportunity for a boost in the wild card race, but instead widened the gap between the Orioles and the AL’s three additional qualifying spots.

Having played his first two games against AL-Worst Oakland, Baltimore lost four games on the ground in the wild card standings, largely by losing three of their four games against Toronto.

“So they say we can’t do it, no matter if we win, then yes,” said midfielder Cedric Mullins of his belief the team can make it past the season.

The Orioles can technically make a floor on the Blue Jays with just their six head-to-head encounters, but every loss against them is compounded by their already low odds.

One of the top bidding candidates, Grayson Rodriguez has started two spells this week for Bowie as he continues to build on his return from a Class II muscle strain. Throw 40 throws in 2 rounds on Tuesday, soaring nine from his first start with High-Aberdeen, climbed to 56 as he hit seven times over the course of 2/3 innings on Sunday. In a five-day tournament, Rodriguez’s next start is lined up for Friday, although it is unclear if he will play for Bowie again or finally join Norfolk.

He’s on track to do three more starts before the Triple-A season ends, and at his current pace, that might be enough to stretch for at least 90 pitches. The Orioles could then decide to give him another start in the regular Major League season, either to help advance the playoffs or to give him a taste of continuing into next year.