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Gonzo For Henri

Gonzo For Henri

Oct. 21, 2002

Note: The following article appeared in Baseball America

Gonzo For HenriBy Tom Halliburton, Baseball America

HOUSTON, TX–From his obscure status as an undrafted outfielder, Henri Stanley leaped into prominence more than any minor leaguer in the Astros organization. Stanley forced club executives to notice by earning team MVP honors at Double-A Round Rock and by playing in the Double-A and Texas League all-star games.

A 5-foot-10, 190-pounder, the lefthanded-hitting Stanley–who played collegiately at Clemson–was .314-16-72 with 36 doubles in 456 at-bats. Stanley delivered a breakout year in the low Class A Midwest League last summer by batting .300-14-76 in 400 at-bats for Michigan. His chance to move up the ladder has arrived again because of his stats as well as all-out effort. The latter ingredient has a way of overcoming the fact that Stanley did not enter this season as a high-profile player in the Astros chain.

“Henri runs the hardest to first base of anybody in our organization,” Astros farm director Tim Purpura said. “That’s what you want to see. His makeup is excellent. He’s thankful for every inning that he wears the uniform.

“He’s kind of a sleeper guy, because he does everything well except throw. Is he a sure-fire major league prospect? Probably not. Can he make himself into a major league prospect? Absolutely.”

Purpura draws comparisons for Stanley and another bonafide big league star who developed in the Astros system with similar strengths and weaknesses. The knock on Diamondbacks all-star outfielder and former Astros product Luis Gonzalez involved his throwing ability, too. When big league clubs find a player who can hit for an average, hit for power, run and field, they often can advance a guy anyway.

Purpura doesn’t deny Stanley’s throwing ability can be regarded as the most vulnerable aspect of his all-around game.

“That’s certainly Henri’s area of weakness,” Purpura said. “His arm strength is a little below average. Gonzo had a below average arm in Houston. Now that he can hit 50 home runs a year, people don’t seem to talk about his arm.”