Staying Alive: Henriquez Continues Quest for Majors
Longevity in the minors makes him an asset
With 42 wins in the first half, Jim Pankovits knows the 2012 Generals roster is special.
"We've got quite a few kids here who have a chance to play a long time in the big leagues,” said Pankovits.
It is not yet known if Ralph Henriquez will be one of those players, but his longevity in the minors makes him an asset.
"He's got some veteran experience here at this level. He’s played at the AAA level. He can lend some of those experiences to some of these players,” said Pankovits.
Henriquez has appeared in 42 Triple-A games.
"I was there for the second half last year and I went back this year for a couple of weeks. It was a good experience,” said Henriquez.
“To be up there with guys who played in the major leagues still trying to find their way, you learn something everyday,” said Henriquez.
If he does not get called up to Seattle, Henriquez can always fall back on his pedigree.
His father won multiple state championships at Key West High School in Florida as a coach and was a minor league instructor for the Atlanta Braves. Henriquez has already picked up several trick of his trade – like running his fingers through chalk lines to make his fingers easier for his pitchers to see.
"Not just here, but sometimes the lights are too dark or too low and the pitchers have a hard time seeing. So it kind of makes it white. That way the pitchers can see the signs,” said Henriquez.
That’s just one example of the tricks he has learned since signing a professional baseball contract in 2005.
He is not short on experience. Henriquez played for seven different teams in three different organizations.
"He signed originally with the Astros, who I coached with for 17 years,” said Pankovits. “So, I saw him when he first signed out of high school and had the opportunity o follow his career for several years. He’s turned into a pretty good little player."
Henriquez made national headlines four years ago while a member of the Mets farm system. He was switch-hitting against switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. Henriquez entered the batters box batting right-handed, so Venditte switched his glove to his left hand. Henriquez then decided to bat lefty, so Venditte switched his glove back to his right. It delayed the game for almost 10 minutes.
As a result, the professional baseball umpire corporation created a rule to address ambidextrous pitchers.