Monday, September 16, 2019

PhoulBallz Interview: Reading LHP Jonathan Hennigan

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Jonathan Hennigan, image- Jay Floyd
It was a solid campaign in 2019 for lefty pitcher Jonathan Hennigan.  He opened the season with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers and earned a promotion to Double-A Reading in May.

As Clearwater's closer, Hennigan tallied a 0-1 record with seven saves, a 2.25 ERA and a .178 batting average against in 14 appearances.  After joining the Fightin Phils, the 25-year-old was a key contributor in the bullpen, notching a 3-4 record with two saves, a 4.47 ERA and a .275 batting average against.  Overall, the six-foot-four 190-pounder sported a 9.5 K/9 mark and averaged 4.6 BB/9.

Prior to the end of the minor league season, I talked with Hennigan, a 21st round draft pick by the Phillies in 2016, about his season, his goals, his family's lineage in baseball as his grandfather Phil Hennigan pitched in the majors and more.  Read ahead for that complete interview.


-Thanks for taking the time.  It's been a good season for you, man.

Yeah, it's going good.

-Talk about your 2019, because you've garnered some recognition, earned a promotion.

It's been good.  The biggest thing for me has been being able to repeat and stay consistent.  I think that's what I've been able to do lately and it's worked out for me.

-What type of feedback have you gotten this year from coaches as far as where you've gotten compared to where you've been and where things are headed for you?

I think the main thing that's I've gotten (from them) was just stay in my delivery and keep doing what I'm doing.  I feel like as long as I stay down in the zone and do what I can do, then everything is-- success comes.  That's the biggest thing for me, is to not get out of it, not overdo it and not do too much.

-What's you repertoire like now?  Were there any additions or subtractions this year?

No, I don't think so.  It's just me, myself staying into it and finishing strong.

-What's on the pitch menu for you? What's the strength right now?

Right now, it's the curve ball and just repeating my delivery and my sinker, not trying to do too much.  Sometimes I try to be too fine with my sinker and it stays up and it goes side to side versus actually sinking but I think that's really the big thing is to get ahead and stick with my strengths.

-As far as your achievements this year, is this kind of a goal that you set for yourself, reaching the Double-A level?

Yeah, for sure.  I think that's like, when you grow up, you're like, "That guy's in Double-A."  Spring training, the younger guys-- I remember my first year in spring training, you see the Double-A guys and you're like, "Those guys are RIGHT THERE!"  And this is literally like, you're right there.  You're a phone call away (from the big leagues).  It's a good thing to be here.  You've just got to stay strong and not get too caught up in the moment.  

-What's the family support like for you?  Do you get a lot of support?

Oh, yeah!  My family's a big time baseball family.  My fiancee's a professional softball player.  She's a pitcher as well, and my grandpa played in the big leagues, so my dad's been around baseball for a long time.  So, it's heavy in my family.

-Tell me more about the lineage and your lady.

My fiancee is Randi Rupp.  She just finished her second year with the Cleveland Comets.  She got drafted in the first round.  And then my grandpa played with the Mets and Indians from '67 to '73 as a right-handed picher, so it's in the family.  It's gonna stay there for a while.  

-Excellent.  Does that drive you to try to achieve more and reach that level, because it's in the family?

I mean, I love the game.  Don't get me wrong.  It would be cool to continue it, you know what I mean?  I would say it would.  It does.  But you've got to love this game.  If you don't love the game, you're not going to make it far.  

-How about your pitching coach Aaron Fultz?  What's it like playing for him?

He's the man.  He's been in the big leagues for eight-plus, nine years he played.  Left-handed pitcher.  And he always tells me, "I didn't have the best stuff, but I pitched."  And that's the biggest thing.  You ain't gotta be perfect. That's what I take from him.  You don't have to be too fine.  He's really strong on the mental game and when he sees something, he lets you know and it clicks.  That's what I really get out of him.  That's what I take from him.

-Any differences you've noticed with a newer regime over the past couple years, are there differences you can see related to analytics?

Yeah, it's a plus.  Having the numbers and the stats is a plus.  I think everybody sees how the shifts work and I think the biggest thing is understanding your hitters.  And we get that like every other team gets that.  And it's all out there.  You can go look at every big leaguer right now on the internet.  All their stuff is out there and everybody knows about it.  Everybody knows who you are.  It's like you go out and pitch, everybody's got your number, so you just have to pitch.  I think more times than not stats say that pitchers win.  A great hitter's .300?  .280?  You win 73 percent of the time, so stick to your strengths and nothing else will beat that. 

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