New York Yankees outfield prospect Jeff Hendrix is tearing it up with Double-A Trenton since he promoted from High-A Tampa.
Outfield prospect Jeff Hendrix was part of the plethora of organizational moves that the New York Yankees made following the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After fellow prospect Nick Solak and he both powered their ways through the competition at High-A Tampa, they both earned themselves a promotion to Double-A Trenton.
The 24-year-old Hendrix was named as the No. 29 prospect in the Yankees farm system prior to the 2017 season by FanGraphs. Hendrix was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 amateur draft out of Oregon State University, as he was drafted at a relatively old age for a college bat.
If you were to ask me, Hendrix is like Brett Gardner with the glove and speed, as he’s possibly even better on the bases and with range in the outfield, but he doesn’t possess the bat that the Yankees leadoff man does. He’s a slash hitter — just like Gardner — who likes to use his speed and hit balls on the ground to pick up base hits, but he may see his batting average and other numbers decrease as he rises through the farm system due to the quality of the fielders opposing him and the pitching.
FanGraphs projects the left-handed hitting Hendrix as a potential fifth outfielder in the big leagues and a pinch-runner. His glove in center field is good enough to get him in a big league lineup someday. FanGraphs also gives him an estimated major-league debut year of 2018, so Yankees fans could see him getting a call-up next season.
After getting drafted in 2015, Hendrix struggled out of the gate that summer with the Yankees Short-Season affiliate in Staten Island across 65 games there. Over 280 plate appearances, he only posted a slash line of .229/.332/.254 (.586 OPS) with no home runs, six doubles, 42 runs scored and 14 runs batted in. Though he was walking at a 10 percent clip and showing that he could steal bases at the lower ranks with 17 stolen bags, he struck out a lot, recording a 23.2 percent strikeout rate.
However, he still moved up the organizational ranks, as he started the 2016 campaign with the club’s Low-A affiliate in Charleston. In 65 games with the affiliate, Hendrix looked more comfortable at the plate, despite the still high 22.3 percent strikeout rate.
Across 278 plate appearances, he registered a .299/.397/.389 (.786 OPS) slash line, along with one home run, 16 doubles, one triple and 25 runs batted in, though he was definitely helped out by his high BABIP (.397). He rose his walk rate to 12.6 percent, showing his plate discipline had increased with a season of professional ball under his belt, as he also added 11 stolen bases.
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His play earned him a promotion to High-A Tampa before the year was finished, as he would appear in 35 games there. Hendrix didn’t miss a beat in the competitive Florida State League.
He managed a .284/.353/.362 (.714 OPS) in 156 plate appearances, along with no home runs, five doubles, three triples, 17 runs scored and 14 runs batted in. He also added on another six stolen bases and though his walk rate had been cut almost in half (8.3 percent), he also lowered his strikeout rate in the limited action to 15.4 percent.
Hendrix would continue playing with High-A Tampa, as he would end up getting off to a .271/.408/.335 (.742 OPS) start through 67 games. Over 294 plate appearances, he had two home runs, seven doubles, one triple, 28 runs scored and 12 runs batted in — which was less than a number of runs he had driven in over half the games played at the level last year. Hendrix posted an unsustainable and incredible 16 percent walk rate, going along with his 22.1 percent strikeout rate.
This success to open up the year through July garnered the Yankees prospect a trip to New Jersey, as he was promoted to Double-A Trenton, who has been by far the best team in the Eastern League, sporting an 83-43 record.
Hendrix has been hitting out of the one-hole since he’s been called up from Tampa for the Thunder and he’s torn up Double-A pitching.
In 20 games since being promoted, he has slashed .388/.425/.450 (.875 OPS), along with no home runs, three doubles, one triple, 10 runs scored and two runs batted in. After walking 47 times with High-A Tampa, he’s only walked a mere four times over 88 plate appearances (4.5 percent walk rate) and struck out 14 times (15.9 percent strikeout rate).
Since his promotion to Double-A Trenton, him and Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell have been working on a number of things, including baserunning. Mitchell mentioned that he has been overthinking stealing bases this year and he’s only contributed two stolen bags with Trenton.
“We are doing a lot of base stealing stuff, and reads off of pitchers,” Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell told Sean Miller of NJ.com on August 16. “We talk about that. Talk about stealing third some. Not a lot about that yet, but reading pitchers, and really just trying to get more aggressiveness in him.”
Mitchell played center field when he played in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system and for them and the Minnesota Twins in the big leagues. He got the chance to play in 202 major-league games over four seasons from 1980-1983, hitting .243/.336/.308 (.644 OPS) with three home runs, 15 doubles, eight triples, 75 runs scored and nine stolen bases.
When speaking with NJ.com’s Sean Miller, Hendrix mentioned that he really enjoyed the fact that his head coach played the same position that he does — center field — in professional ball. He continued talking about what the two had been working on.
“We are just continuing to focus on defense, and base running, stealing bases, hitting,” Hendrix said about what he and Mitchell have been working on in drills to Miller. “Every aspect of the game. There is never a day where you don’t have something to work on.”
As previously mentioned, Hendrix could be a player that makes an impact for the Yankees come 2018. Though he likely won’t be an everyday player for the team, he could get a crack at the big league roster at some point during the season as a quality, speedy outfielder of the bench.