Detroit Tigers take Layne Henderson during the MiLB portion of Rule 5 Draft.
The Detroit Tigers were busy on Wednesday night out west in San Diego. At the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, the stove is boiling, and moves have been happening left and right. From big name signings to smaller trades.
For the Detroit Tigers, the team was busy partaking in the Rule 5 Draft and shipping relief pitcher Joe Jiménez to the Atlanta Braves in a late-night trade. Quite the re-load on prospects by Scott Harris and company in the team's front office.
During the minor league portion of the 2022 Rule 5 Draft, the Tigers selected Layne Henderson, a 26-year-old relief pitcher who has been with the Houston Astros for the last four seasons after being selected during the 2018 MLB draft.
Henderson is a former 30th-rounder from California who played for Azusa Pacific University during his collegiate days before getting drafted and joining the Astros. In 2022, he spent time with the Double-A Corpus Christi squad before getting a bump to Triple-A with the Sugar Land affiliate.
In 2022 with Corpus Christi, he logged 28 games out of the bullpen, accumulating 44 innings pitched. He managed a 3.89 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP and was able to punch out 56 opposing hitters. His time in Triple-A was short.
Henderson managed just six games at the Triple-A level, holding the opposition to six hits over 9.1 innings pitched. He pitched to a 1.93 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame has some length to the build, and it shows. Let's dig a little deeper.
Henderson is a reliever; that's known. Given his quirky delivery, it makes sense. Trevor Hooth of Prospects Live posted a video thread of him on Twitter, allowing me to get a look at the delivery and pitch mix myself.
Hooth states his delivery is funky, and he sure is right. He's long and gets over-the-top, creating some downhill plane on a fastball that looks like it can be heavy or is at least deceptive to be from that high slot.
If he can generate in-zone whiffs and command the zone with the pitch, it's a good thing. He's turning to the changeup often in Hooth's thread, and the pitch looks great paired with the fastball. Both pitches tunnel well from the same arm slot on a replicated arm path.
He has a slider as well, but let's revisit that delivery. Henderson has a high leg lift, up around the letters, but the upper body stays pretty still, with the arms freezing and the leg getting up high still. His throwing hand does the ol' glove tap as he breaks and starts his arm swing.
Henderson throws over-the-top from that high slot with a ton of trunk tilt, easily seen if you slow down videos of him throwing. But I want to bring attention to his ability to rotate in the lower half. From the clips we watch, it's easy to see a good amount of hip mobility that creates some hip-shoulder separation that likely piques the interest of the Tigers' pitching brass.
Henderson's stats may not jump off the page, but there are components of his makeup as a pitcher that make him a desirable addition to the Tigers organization.