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March 18, 2005

by Fabian

Sean Henn, 24, LHP

Sean Henn’s ranking on this list could be seen as an affirmation of the old baseball saying that lefty pitchers get all the chances in the world. While Henn looked ready to set the baseball world on fire during the summer of ’01, he has not demonstrated the same level of dominance since. To be fair, he did have to make the recovery from Tommy John surgery, but I feel Henn has received sufficient leeway for this.

After blowing his elbow out in that summer of ’01, when he went 3-1 with 49 strikeouts, 15 walks, and just 26 hits in 42 innings, I thought Henn would be back by the end of ’02. I was wrong about this, as Henn did not return until early summer ’03. In addition to returning early, Henn went from a left-hander with excellent mid 90s velocity having touched as high as 99 to a left-hander with low 90s velocity, occasionally touching the mid 90s. The loss of stuff combined with a lack of development as far as his secondary offerings saw Henn deliver an under whelming FSL campaign; 72.1 innings, 69 hits, 37 walks, 52 strikeouts, and 3 home runs allowed. While some gave him a complete pass for that since it was his first season back from TJ, I was leery of doing so considering how long he took to come back.

Entering ’04, my expectations for Henn were huge and only made larger by a good spring, in an admittedly small sample. While some, including Henn, find solace in his being injury free all year as at least one overall performance positive to take away from ’04, I am not as pleased. Henn stayed healthy, but was a mediocre performer on the year and showed signs that the starter’s role is one he is ill suited for, which downgrades his prospect status.

The things you look for in a pitching prospects overall numbers to more easily separate prospects and suspects; lots of strikeouts, limited extra base hits, limited walks, are the things Henn is only truly successful at when facing LHB. While a LOOGY may not be the most important or high profile role, it still has some value and Henn looks to be able to do that at the least. Henn may also prove to be more valuable than that since much of his trouble when starting occurred in the second half of the season and in just about every other start, both things indicating problems with fatigue. A less stressful relief role may allow Henn to tap into his natural talent, visible on occasion and perhaps shown by consistently low HR rates, and become a critical component to a winning ball club.

It is that slight chance in addition to being a left-hander that can throw in the 90s that keeps Henn on this list, despite the poor ’04 and terrible spring training. This year will be critical in his development though and I expect him to be very successful if placed in a relief role for Columbus and mediocre if he placed in a starting role. As a reliever, I could see Henn having a second half impact for the Yankees.

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