- The Washington Times
Thursday, August 18, 2022

Earlier this year, pitching prospect Cole Henry looked like he was on the fast track to the big leagues.

A year after dominating high Single-A competition, Henry had similar success at Double-A and was promoted to Triple-A in June. But he was sidelined with a shoulder injury just two starts into tenure with Triple-A Rochester, and now he’s preparing to undergo a surgery that multiple other Nationals pitchers have gone through. 

Henry told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen that he will be undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome — the same injury that’s hampered both Stephen Strasburg and Will Harris in recent years — next week. He will miss the remainder of the season, but he hopes to be back in time for spring training. 

“Never good, but I’m pretty young. I feel like guys bounce back pretty well when they’re young from this surgery,” Henry said on Paulsen’s “Bustin’ Loose Baseball” podcast. “I don’t think it’ll be much of an ordeal, hopefully. I should be back ready to go for spring training or right there at the end of it. Shouldn’t be too much of a hold up.”

Henry, a second-round pick in 2020, is the second best pitching prospect in the Nationals’ farm system, behind Cade Cavalli, and the 23-year-old is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Washington’s sixth-best prospect. 

Across 78 2/3 innings in the minors, Henry has a sparkling 2.06 earned-run average and an impressive 4.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed only two earned runs while striking out 28 batters in his first 23 2/3 innings of the season with Harrisburg. He made two starts with Rochester in June before being put on the shelf with shoulder discomfort. 

“I took about four weeks off right whenever my shoulder started bugging me,” Henry said. “I came down here, didn’t touch a baseball for four weeks, just did a bunch of rehab stuff trying to make my way back. And basically started throwing again and didn’t feel any better.”

Henry then went to see a series of doctors and after testing it was concluded that he needed thoracic outlet surgery. 

“From talking to the doctors and our medical staff, I think we’ve kind of got a good grasp on the problems the past few years, and they think this has been the main cause of all of them,” Henry said. 

He will now join Strasburg and Harris as Nationals pitchers recovering from the surgery. 

Strasburg has barely pitched since he started having nerve issues in 2020. Since winning the 2019 World Series MVP award and signing a seven-year, $245 million contract, Strasburg has started only six big-league games — two in 2020, five in 2021 and one this season. 

His 2020 season ended due to carpal tunnel surgery, while last year’s campaign was cut short after he underwent thoracic outlet surgery. He rehabbed and returned to the Nationals this season, making one start in Miami, but he quickly went back on the injured list due to a stress reaction of the ribs. 

Harris, meanwhile, underwent the surgery last spring and has yet to make it back to the majors this season. He’s thrown only 23 and two-thirds innings since signing a three-year, $24 million contract with Washington before the 2020 season.

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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