The Milwaukee Brewers, unlike most teams, have quite a few catching prospects in their sneaky deep farm system. Jacob Nottingham has already made his big league debut, and has held his own in Triple-A. Mario Feliciano and KJ Harrison are two bright young catchers, and even further down they have Cooper Hummel and 2018 seventh-rounder David Fry.
However, one big name that Brewers fans won’t want to miss is Payton Henry. Henry, a sixth-rounder in 2016, has shown prodigious power and a keen eye at the plate in his brief minor league career. I ranked him No. 27 in my Brewers midseason top 50 prospects list, and is as high as No. 12 on MLB Pipeline. He is currently boasting a tidy .335 OBP and 10 home runs on the season, all spent in Appleton, Wisconsin with the Single-A Timber Rattlers.
I had a chance to chat with Henry, where we discussed his decision to go pro after high school, which players he has modeled his game after, what goals he has going forward and even what his average day looks like as a minor league ballplayer.
Did you have favorite players growing up?
Do you have any players that you model your game after or are hoping to model your game after?
I really like the way Buster Posey plays. That’s a good name for any catcher to want to model their game after. That’s what I try to shoot for and try to mimic. I think it’s also a variety of everyone, guys like Yadier Molina and Salvador Perez who have been solid catchers for so long. That’s who I try to take things from and learn from.
What made you decide to go pro out of high school, and what were some of the challenges of that?
When the opportunity came up it was easy for me to say yes because that was my dream. I wanted to play professionally and I wanted to make the big leagues. When that happened I was really excited and I ran with it. BYU gave me great offers. I was excited to go there as well and if the whole pro ball thing didn’t work out that would have been a very good place for me to be. I’m glad it worked out the way it did.
Coming in so young you really have to learn exactly what type of player you are and what you want to do and what you want to be. It takes a while to adjust to certain things, just playing so many games. You have to make sure that your body is ready every day and that you’re mentally ready every day to go out there and compete. That was the main thing, realizing I need to go out there every day and just put everything I had out there. Whether it was good or whether it was bad I knew it was a good learning experience. I knew that things would get better and I knew that I would get better. So I think that was the main thing is trusting what they had prepared for us and trusting the process. Just doing the things that they were asking me to do, and being hopeful that it would all click.
What are some things, either behind the plate or at the plate, that you have improved upon in the minor leagues?
I think I’ve found what kind of hitter and what kind of catcher I can be. Also, I recognize my limitations. I think that’s big too, understanding what you can and can’t do. I think the separator was finding the things that work for me and flushing the things that didn’t. This is what I’m going to stick to, this is what I know, this is my routine and this is what is going to get me ready for every day. And if I’m not able to do those things every day then I’ve got to be mentally sound and mentally aware of what I’m doing, who I’m facing, things like that.
What are some goals you are hoping to achieve, either this year or going forward?
The rest of this year I’m just trying to finish as strong as possible. You have your ups and downs and things happen. So I’m just trying to finish on the up, that’s my main goal for the rest of the year.
Over the next couple of years I want to improve my hitting approach and also to continue to learn how to take care of the pitchers. How to call better games, things like that. That’s moving forward for me, refining some skills. Obviously the long term goal is to make it to the big leagues. That’s why everybody is here. My goal is to make it to the big leagues and find a way to stay there and have a good career there.
Describe what a day in the life of a Single-A baseball player in Wisconsin is like?
It varies. We are very blessed at our home field in Appleton, it’s a great place to be. I think the travel is what everyone touches base on, the long bus rides and the long night bus rides, getting in at 4:00 AM and having to turn around and play the next day. That’s the minor league life and you just have to be ready for that, be prepared for that and understand that that’s going to happen and that you better come out the next day and play well. That’s kind of how it is up here in Wisconsin. Also, the weather varies drastically. It goes from 20 degrees to 100 degrees and tons of humidity. We’ve had to deal with it all up here and I think that’s a great thing because we learn how to play in every situation.
I want to thank Payton for taking the time to speak with me. Good luck with the rest of the season!
I hope you all enjoyed getting a closer look at one of Milwaukee’s top prospects.
Featured image of Payton Henry – via heraldextra.com