SYRACUSE – For several years, shortstop Blake Hennessey from Arlington Country Day High in Jacksonville, Fla., thought he was a member of the 2014 class.
Hennessey is age-appropriate for the 2013 class, but after being held back in seventh grade for academic reasons, he just finished his sophomore year of high school. But at the end of the school year, he met with his principal and she agreed to work with him to take extra classes with the hope of graduating a year early and being draft eligible with his age group in 2013.
"It was a hard decision for me," Hennessey said. "I was thinking I was a 2014 and I've got another year. But now. . . I mean, I've worked hard, but now I've got to work extra hard."
With that goal in mind, Hennessey has spent much of his summer on the high school showcase circuit. Here at the East Coast Professional Showcase, the 6-foot-1, 178-pound Hennessey has shown a nice, balanced righthanded swing and good actions in the field.
Hennessey used to play other sports, but now it's all about baseball.
"I played basketball for a while, but I'm so aggressive playing basketball that I'd always break my wrist diving for balls and stuff like that," Hennessey said. "So I kind of gave that up. I broke it like three times, but it's fully healed now, so I'm good."
That aggression comes out on the baseball diamond, as well. Hennessey has a take-charge attitude at shortstop. He charges balls hard and is always trying to make the big play. He's grown up around the game as his father, Scott, played in the minor leagues before getting into high school coaching. In 2007, he was hired by the Dodgers to scout South Georgia and North Florida and is the signing scout for Dee Gordon.
"He's taught me to play hard every day," Hennessey said. "Every day just go out there and play hard and don't take anything for granted. . . He tells me what I'm doing wrong and what scouts look for, but he's still a dad to me."
With his dad being a scout and playing alongside Cubs first-rounder Javier Baez in 2011, playing in front of scouts is nothing new for Hennessey.
"I used to get the jitters, but not now," Hennessey said. "I'm used to all the scouts looking at you now. I see those guys and I just want to play hard in front of them. I just go out there, play my game and have fun."
The Oklahoma State recruit said his goal for the upcoming year—aside from hitting the books and staying on top of all his extra classes—is to improve his speed. He ran the 60-yard dash in 6.9 seconds.
"I'm working on my speed right now and working on getting a little bit stronger to get my bat speed better," Hennessey said. "My bat speed's pretty good, but I need to improve. You can improve everyday. To get my speed up, I've got those SPARQ things with the little parachute on the back and I'm doing ladder work to help the first-movement quickness. I'm really working on that right now."
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