After being a 1st round selection in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft, Austin Hendrick had to wait until May of 2021 to make his professional debut due to the cancelled 2020 season. The first week didn’t go well for the outfielder as he went 1-14 with four walks and eight strikeouts for the Low-A Daytona Tortugas. But starting on May 12th he went 3-4 with 2 doubles and a walk, kicking off a 6-game hitting streak that included five doubles and eight walks. As hot as he got in that second week, he cooled off just as quickly, going 1-10 over the next four games, but he would find himself on the injured list with a groin strain for the next three weeks.
When he returned on June 13th he slumped hard. Over the next five weeks he played in 18 games and went 8-61 (.131) with 12 walks and 30 strikeouts. He did pick up his first home run on the 17th and added a second one on July 2nd.
On July 20th Daytona began a series against Fort Myers and Austin Hendrick put up four 2-hit games and hit two homers in the five games he played. He kept on hitting for the next three weeks, culminating the hot stretch with a 4-4 game that included a double and a home run against Jupiter on August 12th. But from the 13th through the end of his season on the 31st he played in 12 games and had hits in just four of them, going 5-41 with 23 strikeouts.
For all 2021 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).
Austin Hendrick Scouting Report
Position: Outfield | B/T: L/L
Height: 6′ 0″ | Weight: 195 lbs | Acquired: 1st round (2020)
Born: June 15, 2001
Hitting | It’s a below-average hit tool and one that players lower right now due to the inability to make contact.
Power | Plus raw power is there thanks to elite bat speed.
Speed | Hendrick is a fringe-average runner now who might lose a step as he matures into his 20’s.
Defense | He’s a solid defender in right field and should have no issues remaining there long term.
Arm | He’s got an above-average to plus arm.
The strikeouts. There are far, far, far too many of them. Austin Hendrick struck out 38% of the time he stepped to the plate in 2021. The problem wasn’t so much a lack of understanding the strikezone as much as it was simply making contact. That can be both good and bad. On the good side he’s drawing a ton of walks because he does know what a ball and a strike is and can see it early enough to lay off of it. On the bad side when you know the strikezone well and still struggle to put the bat on the ball it leaves open a lot of questions about just how much improvement you can make to make more contact.
One of the big things brought up when talking with scouts who saw Hendrick play this year, and even as a high schooler, is the uppercut in his swing that leaves the barrel of his bat in the zone only for a short period of time. Leveling out the swing a little bit could lead to more contact and more likelihood of being able to use the hit and power tools more frequently in games.
In order to reach the big leagues, Hendrick is going to need to make a lot more contact than he made in 2021. He, along with the other hitters that came through Daytona in 2021 were at a bit of a disadvantage compared to anyone else in the minors. The league utilized the automated strikezone during the season, but Daytona’s home ballpark was the one spot in the league that didn’t have it. So the Tortugas dealt with home games where an umpire called the zone and then road games where the zone was automated. The two zones are not the same. Then there was the change in the automated zone midseason after getting feedback from the players in the league that made the zone wider, but shorter. Three different zones during the season probably helped no one.
The upside for Hendrick remains high. If he can make the needed adjustments that leads to more contact, he’s got a chance to be a 30 home run, quality defensive right fielder that you can hit somewhere in the middle of the order. But the downside is that he never makes enough contact and doesn’t reach the majors. There’s a lot of in-between with those outcomes, but the contact issues in his debut are very concerning and historically not something that tends to be overcome when they are at this level.
Austin Hendrick Spray Chart
Interesting Stat on Austin Hendrick
During the week (Tuesday through Friday), Austin Hendrick hit .272/.418/.507 in 170 plate appearances. On the weekends (Saturday and Sunday) he hit .096/.313/.164 in 96 plate appearances.
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