Just six high school pitchers from Oklahoma have ever been selected in the first round of the draft, and half of them have been in the last three years with lefthander Chad James in 2009 and righthanders Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley last year.
That recent trend could continue this year with righthander Ty Hensley from Santa Fe High in Edmond.
While Hensley's stuff isn't quite on the same level as his friends Bundy and Bradley, it isn't far behind.
With a big, physical presence on the mound, standing 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, it's not hard to envision him becoming a workhorse in the middle of a big league rotation. Hensley shows good body control and an in-line delivery. Last summer, his fastball was 91-94 mph and he touched 95. He also throws a quality curveball between 74-78 mph and flashes a 79-80 mph changeup.
"I'll test anybody with my fastball," Hensley said. "That pitch is my bread and butter and you should never shy away from it, no matter who's hitting. I love throwing my breaking ball, my 12-to-6 curveball. I feel like that's my out pitch. And then my changeup has really come along. I've been really proud with the progress I've made with it."
Aside from above-average stuff, the Mississippi recruit also has the advantage of having a dad who played professionally and then coached at the collegiate level for a decade.
Ty's father Mike pitched at Oklahoma and was a second-round pick by the Cardinals in 1988. He played parts of three seasons in the minor leagues, but two arm surgeries ended his career prematurely.
"It made a coach out of me a whole lot sooner than I wanted to," Mike Hensley said.
As a pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, he spent 10 years at the Division I level—two years at Oral Roberts and then eight at Kansas State, from 1996-2003.
"I guess it gives me an advantage over other people who just have regular dads that don't have a whole lot of baseball background," Ty Hensley said. "My dad knows what he's talking about and if something's wrong, all I have to do is go listen to him and he'll fix it."
Having grown up around the game, Ty Hensley is a hard worker with outstanding maturity and makeup. He's a natural leader with an engaging personality. That was on display at the Under Armour All-America Game this summer, when Hensley made a big effort to make the two Dominican players at the game feel at home. Even after taking Spanish lessons since third grade, Hensley isn't quite fluent, but he tried to speak to them in Spanish as much as he could and also helped them to learn the English translations for many baseball words and phrases.
Hensley's leadership was also on display this fall. After making the tough decision to give up football for his senior year to focus on conditioning for his upcoming baseball season, he still wanted to be involved with the team. The Santa Fe football coaches offered him the chance to act as a coach because they valued his leadership, enthusiasm and the bond he shared with his teammates.
"Playing quarterback is a great feeling, being in front of a lot of people on Friday night, coming out of the tunnel and stuff. . . there's no other feeling like that," Ty Hensley said. "But I decided to give it up and that's OK with me. Baseball is where it's at."
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