Gunnar Henderson, a prep shortstop from Alabama, has moved up MLB draft boards due to an impressive senior season this spring.
Henderson has refined his skills, especially his strength and speed, to position himself as one of the top high school hitters in June’s draft class. After starting his senior season as a potential top-five round pick, Henderson has a shot at being a first-round pick.
“I just went out and played my game,” Henderson said. “Whatever happens, happens because I know God has a path for me, and he will show it to me whenever he feels necessary.”
Henderson’s senior season concluded Thursday, giving him three weeks to prepare for the draft and think about the decision he will have to make. He’s an Auburn commit but could bypass the opportunity to begin a professional career.
He grew up rooting for Auburn and has attended “four or five games” this spring, he said. His brother Jackson also is a junior for the Tigers this season.
“Having him up there is another add on for going up there,” Henderson said. “I really love the campus. It has a homey feel. The coaches are great too.”
This spring, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound left-handed hitter posted a .556 batting average with 15 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs and 73 RBIs in 99 at-bats, according to maxpreps.com. He also stole 31 bases.
Henderson credits his success to his experience on the showcase circuit last summer when he faced high-end prep pitching. He also dedicated time in the offseason to adding strength to his frame and improving his plate discipline.
His ability at the plate is the biggest strength in his game.
“I feel the experiences this summer helped me to have maturity on the field,” Henderson said.
In the offseason, he also worked on his foot speed and lateral quickness when he wasn’t playing basketball for Morgan Academy in Alabama. His offseason work showed on the field, as he displayed growth at shortstop.
Pro scouts are split on if Henderson can stick at shortstop in the future. But he believes he can stick at the position due to his above-average arm strength and respectable range.
“I feel like it’s improved a lot,” he said. “I feel like I’ve had a lot more range this year. I’ve been able to get balls in the hole that I wouldn’t have normally gotten to last year.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.