Pre-Draft Q&A with C.J. Henry

Not only is high school shortstop, C.J. Henry, one of the best draft prospects in the country, but he is also one of the primary targets of the New York Yankees in the 1st round. We had a chance to chat with C.J. about his draft expectations, skills, improvements and much more.

PinstripesPlus: First of all C.J., thank you for joining us. Now, we've learned that you attended a private workout for an MLB. Who was it for and how did it turn out for you, overall?

C.J. Henry: Yes, I went to a private workout. It was for the Yankees in Tampa on Wednesday. I think it went pretty well. It was a lot of fun and I think I played well. The weather was real good there so it was nice to play in. I was happy with how I did down there. I enjoyed it. I also think I made an impression and my hope is that the Yankees think the same thing. But, it was a great experience.

PinstripesPlus: What do you think is the biggest improvement you made this year, as a senior, that propelled you to first round status in the draft.

C.J. Henry: I think it was a combination of a lot of different things. But, I think a lot of it had to do with my fielding. I started to play a lot better at shortstop this spring. That might have had a lot to do with it. But, I've also improved all around I think. I've just become a better player than I've been in the past. But, if I had to pinpoint something, it would be my fielding.

PinstripesPlus: You have made a commitment to play college basketball at Kansas. However, most reports say that it means nothing and that you will pursue professional baseball if that draft goes according to plan. Is this correct?

C.J. Henry: Yeah, that's the plan. I've always been a good basketball player but my goal is to be a Major League Baseball player. And, I figure now is the time to get started towards that goal. I'm looking at the early rounds of the draft and I'm expecting it to go well when the day comes.

PinstripesPlus: Can you comment on which teams have shown the most interest in you for the upcoming draft?

C.J. Henry: I would say the Yankees have probably shown the most interest in me. They've been scouting me for a while now and they like what I can do. I'd say them, more than anyone else, have had the most interest in me. Nothing is certain in the draft, but I know they are looking at me as a possibility for an early pick. All I can do is wait and see. Other teams that have scouted me a lot are the Marlins, Twins, and Orioles too.

PinstripesPlus: Switching gears now, how would you describe your style and approach at the plate?

C.J. Henry: Well, I'd say that I'm a complete hitter. I don't think I'm prone to hitting the ball to one place or another. I really like to use the whole field. I'd also say that I'm an all around hitter, not just a power guy or a contact guy. I think I fall somewhere in between there. The more complete a hitter I can be at the plate, the better off I'll be.

PinstripesPlus: Despite all the strides you made this spring as a player, what improvements will you still be looking to make, hopefully as a professional?

C.J. Henry: I'd like to improve every phase of my game, as always. I want to keep improving in the field and my hitting can always get better. I won't be satisfied. I just have to always keep elevating my game. That's the biggest key.

PinstripesPlus: Often times it is said that there is just something about 1st round players that makes them just that much better than the others. What would you say separates you from the rest of the players your age?

C.J. Henry: I would have to say my hitting ability. I think of myself as an all around player for sure, but my offensive abilities are what scouts have liked the most. So, for that reason, I'd say that's what makes me different from other players.

PinstripesPlus: We have already mentioned that you are also a gifted basketball player. Do you think playing basketball has helped your skills in baseball in any way?

C.J. Henry: Actually, yeah, I think it helps a lot. Because of basketball, I think my lateral movement is a lot better. And, just my quickness also has a lot to do with playing basketball as well. So, yeah, I think it has made a big difference in me as a baseball player.

PinstripesPlus: It is often talked about how much scouts being present at high school games can affect how a player performs. Obviously, it hasn't impacted you at all. Have you found it difficult at all to constantly perform in front of scouts?

C.J. Henry: Well, yeah, I think it is a whole different ballgame with the scouts being there and everything. But, I haven't let it get to me. I still have to play the same way I know how. I mean, most times during the season there would be anywhere from 7 to 15 scouts at my games. I know what they're doing, but I also know what I have to do on the field. "I have to play like I know how" is the attitude I have to take to the field.

PinstripesPlus: There has been a lot of talk that most teams have you pegged more as an outfielder of the future, but you are currently a shortstop. Do you have any preference?

C.J. Henry: I've been a shortstop through high school, but I played some outfield when I was playing in the showcase circuit last summer. I know that's what a lot of organizations might see me as. It really doesn't matter to me all that much.

PinstripesPlus: As you said earlier, the Yankees appear to have more interest in you than just about anyone for the draft. What would being a Yankee mean to you?

C.J. Henry: Wow, the Yankees would be great. I've always liked the Yankees so that would be great. But, just the idea of playing with such a great organization like that would be exciting. It would just be amazing to follow in the footsteps of players like Jeter and all the all time greats of that team.

PinstripesPlus: There have been many different comparisons to Major League players tossed around about you. What Major League player would you compare yourself to?

C.J. Henry: I'd say Alex Rodriguez. We do a lot of things the same way on the field.

PinstripesPlus: You mentioned you play a lot like Alex Rodriguez. Is he someone you have tried to emulate during your career?

C.J. Henry: Yeah, definitely. A-rod and Jeter are the two guys I try to model my game after. Both are just such great players and they always know what they are doing on the field. I think being a player with baseball intelligence is probably more important than anything. That's what makes them so good, besides their natural skills.

PinstripesPlus: C.J., it is widely known that you are a very good natural leader and you have the all the intangibles needed to be a great player. What is your comment on that?

C.J. Henry: I do what it takes to win. And, whatever it takes to win, that's what I have to do. I wouldn't say I've always been a leader, but if being a leader means me doing whatever I can to help my team win a game, that's me. I just give everything I have to offer out there for my team.

PinstripesPlus: If there was one trait you had as a ballplayer that defines you, what would you say that trait is?

C.J. Henry: I would say it is my athleticism. I mean, I play the game hard on every play, but my athleticism is what really defines me I think.

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