The Brewers announced another addition to the 60-man player pool on Wednesday, adding yet another top catching prospect to the Appleton crew.
On August 19th, 2020 the Brewers sent Payton Henry, their 17th-ranked prospect in the minor league system, to the alternative training site to Appleton, WI per Jim Goulart of Brewerfan.net. Henry is now one of four catchers at the training site.
What exactly is the significance of this move? Well besides providing development opportunities for another one of the team’s possible future catching prospects, it also sets them up for possible moves at the trade deadline.
A chance to join fellow Brewers for development
With no minor league season, Henry now gets the chance to put in work with other top prospects in the organization and fringe major leaguers. Included in the top prospects he gets to work out with is catcher Mario Feliciano, who is currently the 4th ranked prospect in the Brewers system.
Henry spent all of the 2019 season with the Mudcats at the High A level. At the plate in 2019 he had a very successful season with 14 home runs and 75 runs batted in. One flaw to his game though is his ability to make contact. Henry’s 29.5 strikeout rate and 18% whiff rate certainly does raise some question marks offensively.
Defensively is where Henry excels and is ahead of the game. He has good agility and athleticism for blocking pitches and a strong throwing arm. In 2019 he threw out 38% of base stealers and 44% the season prior.
In Appleton, Henry will get to go head to head against some of the Brewers’ top pitching prospects and hopefully improve his ability to make contact. For Henry, a player who likely would not have advanced past AA ball during a normal 2020 season, this is almost a best case scenario from a developmental standpoint.
Possible trade bait for the Brewers at the deadline?
As a member of the 60-player pool for the Brewers, Henry now becomes trade eligible this season. The August 31st trade deadline is fast approaching, so if the Brewers decide to use him in a trade, of which there could be a few targets for Milwaukee, he may not spend much time in Appleton.
How realistic is it that the Brewers trade Henry? Of the Brewers’ Top 30 prospects per MLB Pipeline, five of them are catchers. Henry’s MLB potential is viewed as a defensive oriented catcher who has the potential to hit for some power. A team looking to develop a future backup defensive catcher could be a good trade partner.
It seems most likely that the Brewers sent Henry to Appleton for developmental purposes. Still, he will be one name to monitor as the trade deadline approaches.