MLB prospect takes the field with Pilots

Published 9:11 pm Thursday, June 28, 2012

Josh Henderson sits on the bench and watches during a recent Peninsula Pilots game. Henderson got picked up temporarily on the minor-league team’s roster on Thursday.

By Titus Mohler


Former First Baptist Christian star Josh Henderson was drafted by the L.A. Dodgers on June 6 and was set to begin giving the team’s scouts an idea of what kind of salary to offer him by playing his first game for the Peninsula Pilots on Thursday.


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The Pilots, based in Hampton, are part of the Coastal Plain League, which is composed of teams with rosters full of top-level collegiate players and MLB draftees like Henderson.

Henderson will need to play some games with the Pilots to give scouts get an opportunity to see how he performs against consistently high-level opponents that he did not face in high school.

“They’re going to watch me play for about two or three games or so,” Henderson said. “And then they’re supposed to make an offer, and we’ll all continue on with the process.”

If he were to decline the offer, in the fall he would likely go to Liberty University, where he already had been signed prior to his selection in the draft.

“If I were to accept it,” he said, “I would go out to Glendale, Ariz., and play in the Arizona League, which is a rookie league where most of the high schoolers go … at the Dodgers’ spring training complex.”

The roster for the Pilots had been full for the last two weeks, so Henderson had to wait for a spot.

While waiting, he has been working out with the team under the watchful eye of Dodgers scouts. Scouts were a consistent presence at his Crusaders games this past season, and though the stakes are even higher now, Henderson seems calm about the situation.

“I’ve just been going out there doing my same ol’, same ol’, just going out, getting my work in, hitting and everything,” he said. “So, it really hasn’t been too much different at all. I’m pretty comfortable with everything that’s going on.”

An average day includes everything from stretching to batting practice with the team, watching the game, eating dinner, and then getting home around 11 p.m.

This watch-and-wait period allowed for important skill refinement.

“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well and just working on a few things,” he said. “Just trying to tune up some things so that I’ll be ready to play whenever that time comes, whenever my name is called.”

The call came Thursday, when a spot finally opened on the Pilots’ roster.