Henry debuts, kicks off wave of D-backs young arms

August 3rd, 2022

CLEVELAND -- As he took the mound for his big league debut Wednesday afternoon before a 7-4 loss to the Guardians, Arizona left-hander Tommy Henry remembered the advice he got from several of his new teammates.

“You only get to make your debut once,” they told him. “Make sure you take a minute to look around, take a breath and soak it in before you start.”

So that's what the 25-year-old did before completing his warmup pitches.

"I have that image and that sound in my head from the first time," Henry said. "I'm glad I remember."

It must have been a nice moment for him, but in a flash, things sped up. A game that appears to move at a nice, leisurely pace when you're sitting in the stands or at home watching it on television moves a lot quicker when you're actually on the field.

With over 100 family, friends and former teachers and coaches in the stands cheering him on, Henry worked out of a first-and-third jam in the first.

Then, in the second, the Guardians loaded the bases with no outs, and pitching coach Brent Strom went to the mound to try and settle Henry down.

"I needed it and I liked it," Henry said of the visit. "That was when I realized I needed to take a breath. It gave me a chance to take a breath, change perspective a little bit and get back to competing in the zone."

The D-backs believe that the former University of Michigan standout has a chance to be in their rotation for years to come. And while they are trying to win every game they can, the D-backs are also building for the future. So while the 7-4 loss was disappointing, it was also a chance to see what one of their pitching prospects could do.

Henry ended up allowing four runs on four hits over five innings.

Experience will certainly help Henry, and he knows there are other areas that he'll need to improve on for his next start.

For one, his slider seemed to not have its usual bite. It was a slider that Amed Rosario crushed for a three-run homer in the fifth.

"A slider that didn't slide," Henry said of the pitch to Rosario. "And it happens, and good hitters will hit mistakes. It was probably too good of a pitch in that moment. I was planning on it sliding and it didn't, and that's what happens."

Before the game, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said that one of the reasons the D-backs didn't trade veteran starters like and is that getting young pitchers acclimated into the big leagues is difficult, and he wanted Arizona’s young arms to have experienced veterans around them to talk to and learn from.

Henry is the beginning of a pending wave of young pitching prospects at the upper levels of the D-backs system who could see big league action sooner rather than later. Those hurlers include Brandon Pfaadt, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson, among others.

"Breaking in a young starting pitcher is going to have its challenges," Hazen said. "When our rookie starters are lining up against the Dodgers and the Padres, you see what those lineups are going to look like. I think having some veteran starters is of some importance until we get some innings under that group’s belt."

Henry now has five innings in the books and a few lessons already learned.

"I was probably moving too quick today," he said. "You know, reacting to things a little bit rather than finding my groove. But you know, those are things I'll learn just to and get better at moving forward."