Tigers Prospect Profile #42: Justin Henry

Justin Henry hasn't overwhelmed anyone with his tools, however, his versatility has made him valuable to the organization, and in 2011, his bat came on, hitting .300 between Erie and Toledo. With his defensive versatility, could Henry become the club's next version of Don Kelly?

Justin Henry
Position:Utility
Height: 6-2
Weight: 185
Born: 4/30/1985
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Background
A ninth round pick of the club in 2007, Henry came out of the gate firing on all cylinders that summer, finishing with a .340/.421/.412 line for short-season Oneonta. He continued hitting next year in the Midwest League with a .295/.356/.360 line, playing almost exclusively at second bath throughout both stops.

The road got a little rockier at High-A Lakeland in 2009 as he scuffled to a .257/.331/.309 line though he did still manage more walks than strikeouts and 18 stolen bases.

The Tigers moved him on to Erie for the 2010 season and he posted a .260 average with 36 walks and 40 strikeouts in 67 games there before being promoted to Toledo for 44 games. He hit .269 for Toledo and saw his walk rate dip and strikeout rate climb.

The 2011 season saw Henry returning to both Erie and Toledo at various point with most of his season – 113 games – being spent at Double-A. Henry posted arguably the best season of his career with a .309/.410/.404 line, 62 walks, only 52 strikeouts, a career high 26 doubles and 23 steals.

Scouting Report
Henry's tools were at their best in 2011. He has a lean, athletic body and good athletic bloodlines.

Henry's most prominent tool is his defense. He plays sound defense and a multitude of positions with his best being second base, where he is widely considered an above-average defender. He demonstrated the ability to capably hold down shortstop on an occasional basis while also being able to play third base and all three outfield positions without trouble. He has a solid-average arm that works at any position.

He has a sound approach at the plate and he rarely expands his strike zone or panics during an at-bat. He will work deep counts and wait for a pitch he can poke to the outfield. His knack for contact allows him to avoid strikeouts and lets him battle in two-strike counts with ease.

There is absolutely no power in Henry's game. He receives 20-grades on the 20-80 scouting scale and he rarely even drives balls to the gap Even with such a glaring lack of power, Henry handles the bat well enough to keep pitchers from overpowering him and taking away his natural hitting ability.

Henry is an above-average runner with good instincts on the bases and the ability to steal a bag when needed. He picks his spots well and gets good jumps on pitchers.

His makeup and work ethic are absolutely off the charts and allow him to maximize the tools he has in his bag. He grinds out every at-bat and won't stop giving maximum effort at any time.

His extreme versatility, outstanding makeup and solid approach at the plate give him a chance to be a big league utility player. He is the type of player managers love and if he gets a shot he could stick.

Performance

Level

Team

AB

AVG

2B

HR

RBI

SO

BB

OBP%

SLG%

AA

Erie

376

.309

24

0

46

52

62

.410

.404

AAA

Toledo

19

.421

2

0

1

2

3

.500

.526


Health Record
Henry has been healthy throughout his professional career. He is a good athlete and a hard worker that keeps his body in outstanding physical condition.

The Future
After a strong 2011 season that has continued with an excellent showing in the Venezuelan Winter League, Henry will be in consideration for a non-roster invitation to Major League spring training.

With the Tigers bringing back Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago in 2012 he will have a hard time cracking the roster to start the season but could be one of the first – along with Danny Worth – to get the call if injuries arise. He is slated to spend the year moving around the diamond in Toledo if a call to Detroit does not come.

With his age Henry has a limited window to get a true big league opportunity. As I said though, if he gets a chance he is the type of player coaching staffs fall in love with and he could stick around for several years as a super-utility player.

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