Cards Prospect Tyler Henley's Long Road Back

12 months ago, outfielder Tyler Henley was a rising star, but Tommy John surgery stunted his career momentum. He is now back on the field.

Outfielder Tyler Henley was been rising through the St. Louis Cardinals system since having been taken in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft from Rice University.

Tyler Henley
By 2009, the left-handed hitter had really put his game together with Double-A Springfield. Henley was named to both the mid-season and post-season Texas League All-Star teams after posting a line of .303/.367/.482 in 123 games and 473 plate appearances. He led the entire Cardinals system with 31 doubles and was ranked in the top ten in most offensive categories, including batting average, runs scored, hits, home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS.

Henley's potential was recognized when he was then invited to the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Against the elite competition, he impressed, registering an .858 OPS.

Henley arrived at the Cardinals major league spring training camp in 2010 as a non-roster invitee and continued to open eyes. He reached base 12 times in 25 Florida plate appearances for St. Louis and had a line of .381/.480/.524.

Assigned to Memphis, Henley had a red-hot start in his Triple-A debut season before suffering an elbow injury before April was out. Upon activation from the disabled list, he was returned to Springfield, but by the end of June, it was clear that surgery was necessary.

Now, 25 years of age, Henley was able to return following his Tommy John ligament replacement procedure in time to participate in 2011 spring training. He was most familiar with the location, as the Jupiter rehab facility had become his home away from home. This time, Henley did not receive a big league camp invitation, however.

Needing to reprove himself, Henley is back with Springfield once again to open the 2011 regular season. Where he was a young buck two years prior, he is now the third-oldest player on the Double-A roster.

Henley finds himself in a battle for playing time with emerging outfield prospects Tommy Pham, Alex Castellanos and Aaron Luna. Making his first regular-season appearance in Saturday's game three, Henley's rust showed as he fanned three times in four hitless at-bats.

As he has been around the block before, it seems unlikely that one bad game will diminish Henley's drive and enthusiasm. I spoke with him in training camp about his 2010 setback and what may be ahead.


Other interviews in this series:
Carlos Martinez
John Gast
Brandon Dickson
Scott Bittle
Trevor Rosenthal

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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