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David Hensley Is Another Astros Late-Round Revelation



The Astros drafted David Hensley in a round that no longer exists.

They selected the San Diego State senior in the 28th round of the 2018 draft, signed him for $1,000 and watched him blossom into another late-round revelation.

Five years after Houston selected Hensley, he started two World Series games as its DH and may have cemented his place on the 2023 major league roster. Manager Dusty Baker had an affinity for Hensley dating back to the team’s minor league minicamp in West Palm Beach, Fla., during the lockout.

“I like his approach, his aggressiveness, and his overall fight to give you a good at-bat,” Baker said. “He'll foul off some pitches. He'll put some others in play. He uses the whole field.

"He's a guy who has risen to the occasion, especially when I had asked him to pinch-hit, which is very, very tough for anybody, but especially tough for young players to pinch-hit.”

Hensley struck two singles in seven World Series at-bats for an Astros team that got just four other hits from the DH spot during the postseason.

The 26-year-old utilityman’s best traits are his plate discipline and contact rate. After struggling early in his career with pitch selection, Hensley worked 80 walks and struck out 103 times in 104 games for Triple-A Sugar Land in 2022, receiving help from an unlikely source.

“Ultimately, this year in Triple-A when we were introduced to the (automated ball-strike) system, I think it helped out a lot being able to have a disciplined approach to the plate and actually have a definitive line of what was a strike and what was not,” Hensley said.

“And just through repetition, you just get better and better at seeing pitches and become comfortable out there and give yourself an opportunity to swing at strikes.”

Hensley hit .298/.420/.478 with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases in Triple-A before being called up for a September cameo. He struck 10 hits, worked five walks and struck out just six times in his first 39 major league at-bats, impressing the coaching staff enough to warrant a spot on all three postseason rosters.

SPACE SHOTS

— Aledmys Diaz’s impending free agency leaves Houston without a utility player on its bench. Hensley started at least 15 games at all four infield positions along with six more in left field for Sugar Land. His defense at all positions is average — he’s most natural at second base and shortstop—and more experience in left field is a must. Still, Hensley’s patient bat may outweigh any defensive shortcomings.

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