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June 6, 2013
Dissecting the Draft: Jon Denney (Player Report)
Jon Denney | C | Yukon HS (Yukon, OK)
Denney in 140 characters or less:
Offensive-mided C, flashed average defensive profile; good juice in bat; hit utility questions; needs refinement; big upside w/fair risk.
Prototypical catcher build, durable with strong trunk/core and long torso. Agility shows between below average and average, needs to work to maintain adequate quickness. Below average runner.
Denney has, at his best, looked the part of a future MLB backstop with a solid catch-and-throw game and adequate hands and agility. This spring he's taken a slight step backwards, showing stiffer hands, inconsistencies in his footwork, and a slowed lower-half than he displayed on the scouting circuit some six to eight months earlier. He will need to smooth out his transfer and get more efficient in his arm action (which from time-to-time incorporates some extra movement in the form of a wrist flick on the back side). He can pop 1.95 to 2.05, with the utility playing-up due to above-average accuracy. If he can get back to utilizing his strong wrists and soft hands and cleaner footwork, he should be able to stick behind the dish with pro instruction to guide him.
Denney boasts a compact and powerful swing, helping the Sooner-stater to produce solid pop to all fields, which he taps into both during BP and in-game. He relies more on leverage and a short path to contact than pure bat speed, so when his swing gets out of sync he can run into some swing-and-miss issues. In a draft deep on prep catchers, Denney easily possesses the highest offensive upside, and teams that saw enough of him last summer should be able to set aside some of his spring struggles.
At his best, Denney is right there with Reese McGuire in the discussion as to the top backstop in the draft class. Unfortunately, his spring has produced questions as to both his defensive and offensive game, making him a better fit now in the mid- to late-first round than in the top 10 overall. He could prove excellent value later in the first if he's able to realize the offensive and defensive potential he had on display last summer. If he has to move out from behind the plate, he's athletic enough to tackle an outfield corner in spite of his foot speed, and his bat has a chance to play well at first base, too.
Projected position: Average catcher on first division team
Suggested draft slot: Mid- to late-1st Round
Catcher Preview Video (includes McGuire)