Gunnar Henderson Aug 31, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Baltimore Orioles third baseman Gunnar Henderson (2) celebrates his solo home run in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The upstart Baltimore Orioles called up their top prospect — and the No. 2 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline — in shortstop/third baseman Gunnar Henderson.

On Wednesday, Henderson made his major-league debut in the Orioles’ game against the Cleveland Guardians. And in his second plate appearance, he went deep.

Henderson crushed an offering from Cleveland starting pitcher Triston McKenzie and sent it well beyond the right-center field wall for his first major-league home run. He swung so hard that his helmet fell off.

That’s a 429-foot blast with a 107.1 mph exit velocity. The 21-year-old didn’t take long to show off his big-time power potential.

Henderson hit 19 combined homers in the minors this season between Double-A and Triple-A, with a .297/.416/.531 slash line.

He joins an Orioles team (67-61 entering play on Wednesday) that has been a tremendous surprise this season. But the surprising thing has been more of how soon they “arrived.” There’s no doubting the talent, which also features catcher Adley Rutschman, the consensus top prospect in baseball entering this season (and Rutschman has been as advertised, worth 3.5 WAR per FanGraphs in 81 games).

The Orioles last won more than 75 games in 2016 (when they won 89), which is also the last time they were a playoff team (lost in the AL Wild Card game, so they didn’t even make it the ALDS). But there’s great reason for excitement now, and talents like Henderson are a huge reason why. Baltimore is just getting started.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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