Cole Henry Makes Mental Strides In Instructional League
In righthander Cole Henry’s first instructional league with the Nationals, he didn’t have much to tweak mechanically because he had done that work the previous winter.
"The biggest thing for me was learning the mental side, having to call my own pitches,” Henry said. “We had classroom work—Baseball 101—each morning, and that really helped. It was a cool experience to have baseball all day.”
The 6-foot-4, 211-pound Henry signed for $2 million out of Louisiana State after being selected in the second round (55th overall) in the 2020 draft. He had to wait until October for his first in-person taste of professional baseball because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he was more than ready to make a strong first impression on team officials.
Henry has a fastball that touches 97 mph, a plus changeup and a 12-to-6 curveball that isn’t quite as consistent as his change.
He was a 38th-round pick of the Tigers in 2018 out of Florence (Ala.) High. He chose instead to pitch for LSU, where he became a Friday starter during his freshman season. Still in that role in his draft-eligible sophomore campaign, Henry went 2-1, 1.89 with 23 strikeouts in 19 innings. He struck out 10 in six innings in a win over Texas at the Astros’ Minute Maid Park on Feb. 28.
Though Henry didn’t get the chance to pitch a full season in 2020, he dominated with a shorter arm action. With help from his father, former Pirates minor league pitcher Jeff Henry, he spent much of last offseason reworking his delivery. Henry had dealt with a strained forearm and a nerve problem under his biceps as a freshman.
“As I got older, it started making more sense what my dad was saying to help me,” Henry said. “He’s been mine and my little brothers’ coaches. He’s a good person to call, both as a dad and as a coach who can talk to me about the mechanics of pitching. He knows what makes me tick.”
The 21-year-old Nationals prospect has two younger brothers. Cade, 19, pitches at South Alabama and 18-year-old Cason is a Miami recruit.
—The Nationals invited the Wilmington Blue Rocks to join their development system at High-A. The Delaware team had been affiliated with the Royals for 26 of its 28 seasons. Washington’s system is set to include Rochester at Triple-A, Harrisburg at Double-A and Fredericksburg at Low-A.
—The Nationals claimed 26-year-old righthander Rogelio Armenteros off waivers from the Diamondbacks and added him to their 40-man roster. Armenteros went 1-1, 4.00 with 18 strikeouts in 18 innings for the Astros in 2019. He has experience as a starter and reliever.