YFU Exclusive Interview with 1st Round Draft Pick Ty Hensley
I had a great opportunity to interview Yankees #1 Draft Pick Ty Hensley who recently signed a $1.2 Million contract with the team on July 12th. Hensley is a 6’5″ 215 pound RHP from Santa Fe High School in Oklahoma who was committed to attend college at Ole Miss before the Draft. It seemed he would definitely sign with the Yanks but after a routine MRI turned up “abnormalities” in his right shoulder, the negotiations went right down to the wire before Hensley signed right before the deadline. He was kind enough to offer some insight into the process as well as talk about his baseball bloodlines and offer an in-depth self-scouting report. Here is the interview in its entirety with my questions in BLUE.(Great job by Matt to set up this interview)
I know your father (Mike Hensley) was drafted by the Cardinals (53rd overall pick in 1988 Draft) and was a college coach at Oral Roberts & Kansas State. What was it like to have a Pitching Coach as a Father your whole life?
I was really blessed and fortunate to have that opportunity. I took every single advantage of that growing up. He’s so knowledgable about the game and has been through all of the stuff I’m going through – pro ball, the draft. He was really instrumental in helping me make my decisions as far as college and later professionally. He’s always been there for me as a father and a coach - and has always known when it’s time to be a Dad and when it’s time to be a coach. I was really fortunate to have that situation growing up and I can’t say enough good things about him.
Reading some of your interviews and talking to you now, it’s obvious you have a vast knowledge of the game for a young man. Do you think that helps you on the field?
Growing up around the game and with my father coaching I lived at the baseball field and was always around baseball guys because my Dad had so many connections and he knew so many people. Growing up around that it just introduced me to the world I’m apart of now. I think it definitely helps me on the field because you get the insight of what other people are thinking and the more you know what others are thinking the better the advantage you have against them.
As a student of the game, give us a Scouting report on yourself and your repertoire.
I throw a 4 seam and 2 seam fastball, sit in the 92-95 range, touching 97-98. I maintain my velocity well throughout the game and feel like I have good life on my fastball. My best pitch is my 12 to 6 Curveball, I throw about 78 to 81 mph. I’m really pleased with how my Changeup is coming along and its gonna be a big pitch for me moving forward…I throw in the 84 to 86 range.
Are you comfortable with your 2-seamer and how do you decide when to throw the 4-seam or 2-seam fastball?
I’m comfortable with both of them. It’s more of a feel thing – if before I throw a pitch I feel I need a little extra movement I’ll throw the 2-seam, but I definitely throw my 4-seam a lot more often than the 2-seamer.
Throwing 92-95 with a Hammer Curve, I’m sure you didn’t have to throw your Change Up much in High School. Have you been able to work on the pitch much?
In the beginning of the year, I hardly threw it at all, maybe 2 a game. But scouts would be like, ‘we need to see your changeup a little bit so we know you can throw one.’ So, I started to throw it more - like 8 or 9 a game, I was really pleased with how it was coming along. I think the more I throw it the better it will be because it’s really such a feel pitch.
Have you toyed with different grips on it or have you found one you are comfortable with like the Circle Change?
Circle change, I throw it off the 4-seam grip
So being 6’5″, 215 – that’s the perfect size scouts like in a pitcher – how do you use your height to your advantage? Are you able to maximize it and get that good downhill action on your pitches?
Yeah, that’s a big thing for me and that’s something I need to work on getting more consistent with getting that good downhill plane because it’s really hard for hitters to get good looks and good contact. It’s definitely something I need to perfect and learn how to repeat over and over again but when I get it there its good.
You sound very knowledgable. Man…..you definitely sound like you’ve been around the game for a while.
Oh thanks, I pitched in college and have always been a huge fan. I read somewhere that you think you will hit 100 MPH in the future – is that a goal of yours?
I don’t think its one of the goals I’m going to set for myself because it’s really not about lighting up radar guns. I just feel the more I repeat my mechanics and perfect them it’s just going to happen. My Dad did it and I’m pretty close so I think it will happen at some point.
Were you represented by an advisor/agent or did your father handle negotiations?
I had an advisor, Rob Martin who is my agent now and my Dad handled a lot of it too – he’s actually a sports agent too.
After you were drafted, how did it come about that they found the “abnormality” in your shoulder?
The night of the draft I agreed to the slot bonus for the pick which was $1.6M and I was going to take my physical a week later, come home, sign and be playing by mid-June. So they put me through a physical and my body tested out fine and everything was good. They did a routine MRI and I guess they had some concerns over risk about my shoulder in the MRI. From a baseball side I was like what? – what are you talking about…. I’m healthy and have never had any pain. But from a business side they saw there were some potential risk and probably my shoulder doesn’t look like everyone elses. Everyone is built a bit differently and that’s probably what makes me the way I am.
I’m sure you got multiple opinions from doctors – were they all in agreement?
I got 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th opinions. (lol!) And there were a lot of conflicting answers from ‘you’re perfectly healthy’ to ‘there’s some risk there.’ But one thing was for sure and that was no one could agree on it which is fine. The picture (MRI) has nothing to do with ability and until something hurts or there are symptoms or until there is instability there is no reason to be concerned. I’m healthy, I’m gonna be healthy and will keep working to stay healthy.
Was the “abnormality” something you were born with or is it something from wear and tear?
If it was new there would be some edema or swelling, there was nothing showing recent trauma. there was just normal wear and tear. Pitching is not a normal motion and no matter how well you throw there’s going to be some wear and tear. So my labrum just looks different from everyone elses.
I’m sure if the Yankees were truly concerned they wouldn’t have offered $1.2 Million.
Yeah, exactly, they wouldn’t have signed me. They still gave me a good amount of money and I’m very humbled and blessed by it to even receive that. At the end of the day I get to go out and do what I love doing for a job - that’s play the game of baseball. I’m happy to be out playing and can’t wait to get my career going and in the right direction.
That’s a great approach. So what’s the plan for the rest of this season?
I’m playing with the Gulf Coast League Yankees and I’ll make my first start on my birthday, July 30th. I negotiated my contract to stay here in the Gulf Coast league for the rest of this year. Then in the Fall I’ll go home for a couple of weeks after the season and I’m pretty sure I’ll come back for Instructs. Then I don’t know if I’ll go to the Dominican after that but I hope I can because I think that will be a great experience. Then get a full Spring Training next year.
I saw you on YES last week working out with the team – what was it like to meet the players & coaches?
It was cool, just a great feeling even if though it was only for a day. It made me want it that much more and made me want to work even harder to get there. All the guys were great, nobody gave me a hard time. They were all really nice and showed me around a little bit. I talked to Curtis Granderson a lot because his locker was right by mine,…..Raul Ibanez and even talked to Derek Jeter a bit. I picked all their brains and they all gave me a bit of advice.
What is it like to be 18 yrs old, living by yourself for the first time in Tampa with a big signing bonus in the bank? Have you bought yourself anything yet?
Its pretty cool. Its different not having my family here but I think it’s a good thing because it gets me used to living on my own. I haven’t gotten the money yet. I won’t get it for a little bit but when I do I’m sure I’ll buy something nice but put the rest of it away.
Sounds great Ty. We’ll be watching to see how you do in your first outing next Monday. Good luck and thanks for the interview!
Thanks for taking the time to let me clarify everything. Thank you.