Gunnar Henderson
Henderson playing for the GCL Orioles in 2019
Baltimore Orioles – No. 2
Third baseman / Shortstop
Born: (2001-06-29) June 29, 2001 (age 22)
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 31, 2022, for the Baltimore Orioles
MLB statistics
(through 2023 season)
Batting average.256
Home runs32
Runs batted in100
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Gunnar Randal Henderson (born June 29, 2001) is an American professional baseball third baseman and shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut in 2022 and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award and a Silver Slugger Award in 2023.

Early life and amateur career

Henderson was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and grew up in Selma, Alabama, where he attended John T. Morgan Academy and played basketball and baseball.[1] Henderson committed to play college baseball at Auburn University during his sophomore season.[2] As a senior in 2019, he was named the Alabama Player of the Year after batting .559 with 17 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs, 69 runs scored and 75 RBIs while stealing 32 bases.[3] Henderson was also named the Alabama Independent School Association Player of the Year in basketball after averaging 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.[4][5] Two years after his graduation in 2019, his uniform number 2 was retired by the Morgan Academy baseball program on January 8, 2021.[6]

Professional career

The Baltimore Orioles selected Henderson in the second round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft with the 42nd overall pick.[7] Henderson signed with the club for a $2.3 million signing bonus.[8] After signing, he was assigned to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles.[9] Henderson finished his first professional season with a .259 batting average, one home run, and 11 RBIs.[10]

After the 2020 minor league season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Henderson was added to the Orioles' alternate training site midway through the Major League season and then took part in the team's fall Instructional League.[11][12] Henderson was named the best overall athlete in the Orioles' minor league system going into the 2021 season.[13] He began the season with the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds and was promoted to the High-A Aberdeen IronBirds and the Double-A Bowie Baysox during the year.[14][15][16] Over 105 games between the three teams, he slashed .258/.350/.476 with 17 home runs, 74 RBIs, 28 doubles and 16 stolen bases.[17]

Henderson began the 2022 season at Bowie.[18] He entered the season as a consensus top-100 prospect across baseball.[19] Henderson batted .312/.452/.573 in 157 at bats with eight home runs and 35 RBIs with 41 runs scored in 47 games for the Baysox before being promoted to the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.[20] On June 28, 2022, the day before his 21st birthday, he hit for the cycle in a 8–2 win over the Gwinnett Stripers.[21] Henderson was selected to represent the Orioles at the 2022 All-Star Futures Game.[22]

The Orioles selected Henderson's contract on August 31, 2022, and promoted him to the active roster.[23] He made the starting roster later that day, in a game against the Cleveland Guardians. His first major league hit occurred that same day resulting in a home run off of Triston McKenzie.[24] Henderson batted .259 with four home runs and 18 RBIs in 34 games with the Orioles in 2022.[25] Following the season, Henderson was named the 2022 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year. The honor came after Henderson hit .297 with 19 home runs, 76 RBI, and 22 stolen bases in 112 games split between Bowie and Norfolk.[26]

On June 11, 2023, Henderson hit a 462-foot home run against the Kansas City Royals, which was the farthest ever hit onto Eutaw Street in the 31-year history of Camden Yards.[27] He has had a pair of four-hit games in his rookie season, beginning with a 14–1 away win over the New York Yankees on July 6 when he also had two homers and five RBI within the first four innings.[28] The other was a 12–1 victory over the Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 20 when he was a single away from becoming the first rookie in Orioles history to hit for the cycle but got his second double of the game instead.[29] He went 6-for-12 as the Orioles' best hitter during the ballclub's American League Division Series (ALDS) loss to the Texas Rangers.[30] He finished the 2023 regular season with 28 HRs, 82 RBIs, .814 OPS, and .255 AVG. On October 26, 2023, The Sporting News announced Henderson as their AL Rookie of the Year.[31] Henderson was named the 2023 Major League Baseball Players Association Outstanding Rookie of the Year.[32] He won the American League's Silver Slugger Award for utility players.[33] Henderson unanimously won the American League Rookie of the Year Award.[34]

References

  1. ^ Martin, Maria. "Selma standout, Auburn signee Gunnar Henderson to sign with Baltimore Orioles". www.wsfa.com.
  2. ^ "Morgan's Henderson commits to play baseball at Auburn". Selma Times-Journal. April 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "Morgan Academy's Gunnar Henderson selected by Baltimore Orioles in 2nd round of MLB draft". AL.com. June 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "Morgan Academy star named AISA Basketball Player of the Year". Selma Times-Journal. March 27, 2019.
  5. ^ Melewski, Steve (June 7, 2019). "Gunnar Henderson interview, plus O's notes and Delmarva getting close". MASN.
  6. ^ Jones, James. "Morgan Academy retires Gunnar Henderson’s baseball jersey," Selma (AL) Times-Journal, Monday, January 11, 2021. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  7. ^ Ruiz, Nathan (June 26, 2019). "Orioles' selection of Gunnar Henderson made his little brother's pajamas a perfect fit". The Baltimore Sun.
  8. ^ Trezza, Joe (June 26, 2019). "Orioles introduce second-round pick Henderson". MLB.com.
  9. ^ Schiller, Joe (July 11, 2019). "Orioles' Second-Round Pick Gunnar Henderson Set to Make Pro Debut Tonight". 1057thefan.radio.com.
  10. ^ "Former Morgan Academy baseball star gets MLB card". Selma Times-Journal. January 22, 2020.
  11. ^ Mayo, Jonathan (October 1, 2020). "O's prospect report from alternate site". MLB.com.
  12. ^ "Gunnar Henderson Talks Instructional League On Inside Access". 105.7 The Fan. October 29, 2020. Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  13. ^ Callis, Jim; Mayo, Jonathan; Dykstra, Sam (April 1, 2021). "Here is the best athlete in each farm system". MLB.com. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  14. ^ Jones, James (June 21, 2021). "Baltimore Orioles promote SS Gunnar Henderson". Selma Times-Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2021.
  15. ^ "Home".
  16. ^ "Orioles prospect Gunnar Henderson dominated in Delmarva. Now, he's embracing the challenge of figuring it out in Aberdeen".
  17. ^ "The Future is Bright: Gunnar Henderson Moving up the Ranks". MLB.com.
  18. ^ "Orioles' future again on display at The Diamond in Gunnar Henderson, 20". Richmond Times-Dispatch. April 27, 2022. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  19. ^ "Orioles have two of MLB's top six prospects, five of top 100 in 2022". Baltimore Sun. January 19, 2022. Retrieved May 23, 2022.
  20. ^ "Get back to what got you here': How a new mindset helped Orioles prospect Gunnar Henderson break out at the plate". Baltimore Sun. June 2, 2022. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  21. ^ Trezza, Joe (June 28, 2022). "Milestones for Henderson: Hit for cycle, turn 21!". MLB.com. Retrieved July 1, 2022.
  22. ^ Melewski, Steve (July 15, 2022). "His time to shine: Gunnar Henderson to rep O's at Futures Game this weekend". MASN. Retrieved July 18, 2022.
  23. ^ Snyder, Matt (August 31, 2022). "Orioles promote Gunnar Henderson: Top prospect joining O's for postseason push". CBS Sports. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  24. ^ "Triston McKenzie In play, run(s) to Gunnar Henderson | August 31, 2022". MLB.com. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  25. ^ "After standout first stint with Orioles, Gunnar Henderson sets sights on Rookie of the Year award". Baltimore Sun. October 24, 2022. Retrieved February 2, 2023.
  26. ^ "Gunnar Henderson: Baseball America 2022 Minor League Player Of The Year". baseballamerica.com. Retrieved June 22, 2023.
  27. ^ "Gunnar Henderson hits 462-foot home run, longest ever to Eutaw Street, as Orioles sweep Royals with 11-3 win". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 12, 2023.
  28. ^ Beach, Jerry. "Henderson’s 2 homers, 4 hits, 5 RBIs lead Orioles to 14-1 rout of Yankees and Severino," The Associated Press (AP), Thursday, July 6, 2023. Retrieved August 20, 2023.
  29. ^ Chen, Sonja. "A single shy of the cycle, Gunnar...doubles!" MLB.com, Sunday, August 20, 2023. Retrieved August 20, 2023.
  30. ^ Dixon, Schuyler. "Orioles get swept for 1st time in 2023, lose AL Division Series in 3 games to Rangers," The Associated Press (AP), Tuesday, October 10, 2023. Retrieved October 13, 2023.
  31. ^ "The Sporting News 2023 MLB Award Winners and All-Stars | Sporting News". www.sportingnews.com. October 26, 2023.
  32. ^ "2023 Players Choice Awards Winners". MLBPA Players.
  33. ^ "Here are your 2023 Silver Slugger winners". MLB.com.
  34. ^ https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/38892291/corbin-carroll-gunnar-henderson-win-nl-al-roy-unanimously