Big league experience

Published 10:35 pm Saturday, August 20, 2011

Josh Henderson, here with First Baptist in a game this past spring, played for the East team in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego last Sunday. The game was played in Petco Park, home of the MLB’s Padres. The trip to San Diego included visiting a children’s hospital and touring a Marine Corps base.

Josh Henderson is on the field for important baseball games virtually every weekend. His summer’s been full of playing for college and pro scouts at tournaments and showcases from Virginia to Florida.

Last week was a new and special experience all to itself, though, even if some of the players in the Perfect Game All-American Classic make it back to a Major League stadium on a full time basis within the next few years.

“It was amazing. The field, it was just awesome. Playing in a stadium like that was so exciting and it was the best-looking field I’ve seen in my life. It was beautiful,” Henderson said.

Email newsletter signup

Henderson was tabbed as one of the top rising senior high school players in the country and played last Sunday night at San Diego’s Petco Park, home field of the Padres.

Closer to home, although for the last few months that’s still meant at sites such as East Carolina, the University of Virginia and Fort Myers, Fla., Henderson plays for Canes Baseball in the Perfect Game organization and school ball for First Baptist. Go back a few years and Henderson was an all-star among all-star teams at Bennett’s Creek Little League.

As a power-hitting, speedy, lefty-swinging centerfielder, Henderson’s the sixth-best outfield prospect in the nation for the class of 2012 according to Perfect Game.

The game was the finale to practices, scrimmages and a home run derby, all in front of scouts and fans, in San Diego.

“I did pretty well, not too bad. I hit a few home runs in the practices and made a few good defensive plays,” Henderson said.

The Classic game Sunday evening didn’t go as well. Henderson went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. The whole East lineup had similar struggles, being held to one hit in the nine-inning game, a 6-2 West win.

“It was something facing the best pitchers in high school. It was pretty crazy. Everyone was throwing in the 90s so it was a challenge, but it was good to have that challenge,” Henderson said.

The East All-Americans used the visitor clubhouse at Petco Park. It’s more than simply a locker room.

Along with couches and televisions, the visiting side has its own weight room, Henderson said.

“We were treated very well. They put us in this really nice Marriott,” he said.

The kids took field trips to Miramar Marine Corps Air Station and Rady Children’s Hospital.

“It’s one of the best children’s hospitals in the country,” Henderson said.

“It was fun. Being able to visit kids who weren’t blessed with the same ability, we take for granted being able to run and jump and just be healthy, so being there and spending a little time with them, it’s a real eye-opener,” Henderson said.

Playing in an MLB stadium is the pinnacle of any young player’s summer. It’s not the finale for Henderson though and actually, it’s not the only baseball he played last week with a connection to the pros.

On Saturday, Henderson was playing at an Atlanta Braves scouting workout at Louisburg Junior College in North Carolina.

“Then that’s it,” Henderson said, “until fall ball.”