Jonathan Denney is a 6’-2”, 205-pound catcher out of Yukon HS in Oklahoma. The left-handed hitting catcher has been one of the most impressive prep players in the country over the last year and is currently ranked as the seventh-best overall prospect in the draft by Baseball America. He has a short, compact swing that allows him to generate a ton of power to all fields. Defensively, he has all the tools to stick behind the plate, making him a highly desirable talent at a premium position.
I recently had a chance to bounce some questions off Jon and would like to thank him for his time, as well as wish him the best of luck this season and with whichever path he chooses.
You’ve had quite the year at all of the major showcases, impressing scouts everywhere you have played. What aspects of your game have you worked on most over the past year?
The thing I have worked on the most over the past year is my mental game and how to handle failure. It has brought me a long way and will continue to do so. I’m the most positive guy on the field, and no matter what happens, you just have to move on.
Who was the toughest pitcher you faced at the tournaments/showcases?
I would probably have to say Trey Ball. He had great movement on his fastball and can really place the ball where he wants to. I have also caught him a couple times.
You have a commitment to play baseball at Arkansas. What was it about the university that made you choose them?
I chose Arkansas because they are a top-five program and I got a full scholarship. They are also the pre-season number-one ranked team in the country! They also have a great facility which seats 10,500, and the fans care a ton for all of their sports and athletes. Plus, I love the coach and some great players have come out of Arkansas.
Best baseball movie of all time? Favorite quote?
Field of Dreams — “You know we just don’t recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they’re happening. Back then I thought, well, there will be other days. I didn’t realize that that was the only day.”
In a class deep on high school catchers, what is unique about your game as compared to the others?
I can hit the ball a long way and have an amplified mental game. I also call a great game, can throw the ball hard and I just don’t allow runners to advance when they get on base. I do my job and I do it well — confidence is key to a catcher’s state of mind.
If you could sit down and talk shop with one current/former player, who would it be and why?
It would have to be Matt Wieters. I’d like to know how he handles his successes and failures and what his keys are to calling a great game.
What has been your most memorable moment on a baseball field so far?
Everyday for me is a memorable one. I mean, it’s hard to pick just one, and I get to play baseball everyday. Most people can’t say that, and I am blessed to have this opportunity.
If you could choose one current pitcher to face for your first major league at-bat, who would it be, and why?
Aroldis Chapman. Just to have bragging rights on saying I just hit a 104 mph fastball from the left side.
If not baseball, what would you see yourself doing?
I could see myself as a financial adviser. My mom is one and I understand her business pretty well. Plus, I am a people person!
Do you have any baseball superstitions or pre-game rituals?
I have my headphones on, tape up and use a special shoe knot. Then, I get focused, say a prayer and play like it’s my last game.
I think back to when I was your age and what an idiot I was. Knowing that, in a couple of months, it is likely that a major league team will be offering you a huge sum of money to be a professional, how do you stay grounded and just focus on being a teenager right now?
I have a senior year to fulfill, as well as a state championship to win. Until the last pitch of the last game, I’m not worried about the professional side of things. I just need to play my game and the rest will take of itself in the end.
What are your goals for your senior season?
Play as a team, win a state championship and just have as much fun as possible with the friends I grew up with before everyone goes their own ways to fulfill their dreams.
I would like to thank Jon Denney again for his time. Find him on Twitter @JonDenney26
Feel free to follow me @DanMKirby for draft updates and prospect news.