Norfolk Tides infielder Gunnar Henderson is the No. 1 prospect in baseball, as judged by Baseball America, which moved the former Morgan Academy standout to the top spot on its ranking of minor-leaguers on Monday.
The publication updated its Top 100 Prospects List to include selections in July’s draft, and the re-ranking moved Henderson to the top, boosting the momentum that the former Alabama prep star is moving closer to traveling from the southern end to the northern end of Chesapeake Bay. (Norfolk is the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.)
Since being promoted from the Double-A Bowie Baysox in June, Henderson has a .297 batting average, .405 on-base average and .541 slugging percentage for the Tides. In 46 games, he has 40 runs, nine doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 28 RBIs and four stolen bases while dividing his time in the field between shortstop and third base.
“The physical tools are impressive for a kid that age,” Norfolk manager Buck Britton told David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. “The baseball IQ is impressive for that age. Also the young man that he is. He’s a kid that’s super respectful, works his tail off. He’s always probably been the best player everywhere he’s gone, so to have that work ethic and to be the type of human being he is is really impressive.”
Baltimore selected Henderson in the second round of the 2019 draft.
Henderson won the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Baseball Award in 2019, when he hit .559 with a .641 on-base average and a 1.225 slugging percentage for Morgan Academy. He collected 17 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs, 69 runs, 75 RBIs and 32 stolen bases in 131 at-bats, during which he struck out eight times, for the Selma school, which reached the AISA AAA championship series that season.
The current issue of Baseball America features Henderson on the cover.
“It’s pretty cool,” Henderson told Hall. “Just being able to see that in person for the first time was pretty cool. I just can’t thank God enough for allowing me to have the opportunity to be able to be on that. Just being able to have that back home, I know my mom will love that.”
Norfolk is the fifth stop for Henderson on his ascension through the Orioles’ farm system. In 227 minor-league games, he has a .276 batting average, .380 on-base average and .494 slugging percentage.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.