FORT MYERS, Fla. – Three days into the 2011 Perfect Game National Showcase’s four-day run, there is a very clear consensus as to which player grabbed the most attention and made the biggest impact.
Josh Henderson, a 6-0, 184-pound home-schooled left-handed outfielder from Suffolk, Va., had the scouts’ jaws dropping with his pure swing and his approach to hitting a baseball.
Perfect Game President Jerry Ford has been watching and evaluating high school-aged prospects for more than 40 years. Count Ford among those impressed with Henderson.
“He has some of the best hitting tools and one of the best hitting approaches that I’ve seen in a player his age,” he said.
Henderson came into the PG National ranked 125th nationally and No. 3 in the state of Virginia in the high school class of 2012. Based on what scouts saw here the last three days, it seems certain his PG ranking will rise when the next batch is released.
“First of all, I just want to thank God for bringing me this far and for the talents He’s blessed me with,” Henderson said Saturday afternoon. “I have been home-schooled since I was in second grade and I think I’ve kind of been hidden a little bit.
“Like I said, it’s a God thing,” he added. “He kind of brought me out onto the scene playing baseball … and allowed me to make a showcase team and go from there.”
Henderson started playing baseball when he was 10 years old. Just last year he hooked-up with the prestigious Canes Baseball organization and played with Canes’ teams at the PG WWBA 16u National Championship in Marietta, Ga., and at the blockbuster PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.
Playing in those two tournaments helped release Henderson from obscurity and earned him an invitation to the PG National Showcase.
“There have been some ups and downs but I’ve just had to work through everything,” he said. “I came (to the PG National) just trying to play as hard as I possibly could and just do my best. That was my whole mental approach to it.”
After his batting practice session, a PG blogger said Henderson “looked very good in BP showing a fast bat and good power.”
PG National Director of Scouting David Rawnsley was more emphatic.
“The scouts are saying he looks like a young Claudell Washington, because he’s got the broad the shoulders, the narrow hips and very similar swing,” Rawnsley said. “His hitting mechanics are so pure and so good.
“BP – that might have been the best BP I’ve seen in years,” he continued. “He hit four or five rockets out to (right-center) and it’s just easy. He has an extremely advanced game approach and he recognizes pitches. If he can’t hit a pitch – and they’re pitching him tough because the players know who can play – he fouls off the tough stuff.”
Henderson said he’s been “blessed” with two outstanding hitting coaches who, judging by the nature of Henderson’s swing, must be very good at what they do. They are Suffolk high school coaches Tom Lowe and Mark Steufel.
“They showed me everything that I know about hitting,” Henderson said. “I really appreciate what they’ve done.”