While it hasn’t received as much credit as neighboring Texas when it comes to baseball talent, Oklahoma has become a pitching hotbed over the last few years.
Yukon (Okla.) left-hander Chad James was a first-rounder in 2009, while last season, five Oklahoma prep hurlers were selected among the first 200 picks, including Owasso (Okla.) right-hander Dylan Bundy and Broken Arrow (Okla.) right-hander Archie Bradley, who were drafted No. 4 and No. 7 overall, respectively.
This year, Oklahoma might not have the quantity of talent that Texas does, but the state is well represented by Sante Fe (Edmond, Okla.) right-hander Ty Hensley.
Standing in at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Hensley is one of the most physically imposing pitchers in his class. Last season, he went 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 31 innings.
"He's got a power arm with a power delivery,” said Jason A. Churchill, who covers scouting, player development and the MLB Draft for ESPN Insider. “I had him up to 94 mph and sitting 91-92 at the Area Code Games and he used what appeared to be two different breaking balls — either a slider and a curve or a variation of one of them. He may end up in the bullpen, but I like to stay away from labeling a high school kid. You do have to dream on the command and off-speed stuff and hope he develops a changeup if he's to be a full-time starter, however.”
The burly right-hander was one of the busier players this summer. He participated in the Area Code Games and the Prospect Classic, which was a matchup between USA Baseball’s Collegiate and 18U National Teams. He also pitched a scoreless inning at the Under Armour All-America Baseball Game at Wrigley Field,
"It was a blast pitching in a major league stadium like that," said Hensley of his experience at Under Armour. "The talent level behind me was unreal, and it was such an honor to be selected to participate."
At Under Armour, Hensley impressed several scouts, including a senior front-office member of an A.L. East club.
“He got in trouble early, but the fastball had plenty of life and he showed the command and poise that I’ve heard about throughout 2011,” said the front-office member. “It’s all a bit raw right now, but there’s a lot of potential in that right arm.”
Right now, that right arm is currently committed to Ole Miss, who may have the best recruiting class of anyone not named UCLA. Hensley says that college is important to him and called Ole Miss “his dream school”, but a big senior campaign could keep him from ever reaching Oxford.
“He did drag his backside through on some pitches down in Long Beach, something scouts have seen him do, particularly with runners aboard, throughout his junior season.” Churchill said regarding Hensley’s draft status. “But there should be more velocity to come as refines his mechanics, and with his size, he's got a big-league future and won't last long come June. I'd say he starts the 2012 season as an early pick on Day 2."
Whether or not his future is in the SEC or a farm system, the present is very bright for Ty Hensley.
Christopher Crawford is a regular contributor to Prospect Insider and the founder and executive editor of MLB Draft Insider. Follow him on Twitter @CrawfordChrisV.