After getting the honor of starting the first Cactus League game for the D-backs this spring, lefthander Tommy Henry caught himself during his session with reporters.
“I’ve only been asked three questions so far,” the 24-year-old said, “but I already feel like a broken record talking about getting ahead of hitters.”
Among the lessons Henry took from his first full pro season in 2021 was the importance of staying on the attack. One of the reasons the D-backs remain so bullish about the 6-foot-3, 205-pound southpaw is his ability to learn and make adjustments.
The D-backs pushed the 2019 second-rounder from Michigan to Double-A Amarillo last year, giving him the most aggressive assignment of any of their young arms. Working in one of the most hitter-friendly environments, Henry posted a 5.21 ERA with 4.1 walks and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
The D-backs say the quality of Henry’s stuff fluctuated throughout the season, his fastball occasionally bumping the mid 90s as it did during his time at the alternate training site in 2020. Knowing the velocity is there gives the team confidence Henry can tap into it with more regularity, especially after going through the rigors of a full season for the first time.
Henry can sometimes get overlooked when the D-backs’ wave of pitching prospects is discussed, but club officials talk as though they would not be surprised to see him put himself into consideration for an MLB opportunity as soon as this summer.
“When you talk about guys who you could foresee being in the rotation, for one, he’s lefthanded. He’s a really good athlete, the aptitude is high, he has the ability to shape pitches and throw strikes,” D-backs farm director Josh Barfield said. “Those are the kind of guys you see end up pitching in the big leagues for a long time as starters.”
Henry made three appearances in big league spring training games and threw well each time. In seven innings, he allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out seven. His fastball velocity sat in the 92-93 mph range.
— Barfield said righthander Brandon Pfaadt impressed the player development staff by coming into camp in excellent physical condition.
“He’s in a good spot,” Barfield said. “He’s another guy who has transformed his body a little bit. He just even more so looks the part. He’s dropped some pounds. It’s noticeable weight that he’s lost. Just looks a lot more athletic, a lot stronger.”
— First baseman Seth Beer is fully healthy for the start of the season after having surgery to repair a labrum tear, among other things, in his left shoulder. He thinks he had been playing with shoulder damage since his days at Clemson and believes the shoulder is stronger than it had been in years.