Orioles coach compares Gunnar Henderson to Chipper Jones


The last five months or so have been a whirlwind for Gunnar Henderson.

From an August 31 callup to the big club, to a 2-for-4 performance that included a home run in his second at-bat, to recently being named Major League Baseball's No. 1 prospect, Henderson's accolades have been many.

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As the 2023 season approaches and Henderson prepares to make a run for Rookie of the Year, Baltimore Orioles bench coach Fredi Gonzalez heaped praise on the team's infielder and set the bar extremely high for what this 21-year-old former second-rounder might possibly achieve.

Speaking on MLB Network Radio, Gonzalez spoke on the business-like approach Henderson brought to the Orioles last season.

"For his young age his preparation is veteran-like," Gonzalez said. "His preparation as a young player that came up, he knew exacly what he wanted to do, he knew exactly how to get prepared, and this guy is going to get better and better. [He has] unbelievable plate discipline for a young player."

Henderson slashed .259/.348/.440 in 34 games after joining the Orioles at the end of August. Twelve of his 30 hits went for extra bases, including four home runs, which helped him tally 18 RBI. One of the questions on minds in Baltimore: How good will Henderson be in 2023 and beyond?

Gonzalez relayed a story he had with Orioles hitting instructor Cody Asche recently when he was asked who he would compare Henderson to.

"Cody, I said, I do not want to answer this question because you'll think I am crazy," Gonzalez started. "He reminds me of Chipper Jones from the left side. He's a shortstop playing third base and Chipper came out playing shortstop before he hurt his knee.

"[Henderson is a] big, strong kid, his makeup is off the chart and I was really impressed with everything he did in that short period of time in the big leagues," Gonzalez finished.

Gonzalez has been around Jones a significant amount. Jones played for Gonzalez for four seasons from 2003 to 2006 when Gonzalez was an assistant. Later, from 2011-2016, Gonzalez was manager of the Braves. The comparison carries a bit of weight since Gonzalez has spent time coaching both players.

Time will tell if Henderson can live up to the comparison.

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