This is the third in a series of interviews conducted by Steve Potter.
Minor League Spot Light : Jonathan Hennigan
Jonathan Hennigan was the Phillies 21st round selection in the 2016 amateur draft out of Texas State University. The 21 year old lefthanded pitcher is from Center, Texas. In High School Jonathan was an all district 3A selection for Center High School. He attended Galveston College his freshman and sophomore years before transferring to Texas State and played one year for Texas State before signing with the Phillies. Jonathan had an excellent year at Texas State as part of the starting rotation. His grandfather Phil Hennigan pitched in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets from 1969 to 1973.
At Williamsport last season Jonathan began his pro career as a reliever and pitched very well in that role for the Cross Cutters.
Recently I corresponded with Jonathan and asked him a few questions, here are the questions and his answers.
You originally attended Galveston Community College and then transferred to Texas State, I saw you had other opportunities as well, what drew you to pitch for Texas State?
“On my visit the campus was awesome. There’s a river running through campus, awesome facilities, and a great group of guys. One big reason I chose Texas State was so my family could always come watch. I wasn’t close to home but it also wasn’t to far to make a trip. I feel like I made the right choice with Texas State, it’s an awesome program with a heck of a coaching staff!”
What was your reaction to being drafted?
“The feeling when receiving a phone call from a scout saying you were taken in the draft is a dream come true. Every person that plays this great sport wants to get their opportunities at the pro level. Words can’t describe how excited I was and how awesome it was for my grandpaw that played in the bigs to get to see another Hennigan get an opportunity that few people get.”
Any thoughts of maybe going back for your senior year?
“At first it was hard, Texas State has a lot going for them this year and it was hard to not go back and be a part of that and also finish my degree, but I prayed about it and it’s what God wanted me to do! I felt like it was my time to go and shine and play the great game that I love.”
Coming from Texas what has been your exposure to the Phillies and their fans?
“Man, I have heard that it’s a good thing and a bad thing to play for the Phillies. I was told they always have your back but then again if you mess up or are not throwing strikes they will let you know real quick.”
What were your impressions of Williamsport? The ballpark is historic, did you enjoy playing there?
” It was a cool park. It kind of reminded me of home, a small town with a big history. I did a lot of fishing there on my off days so it was something I adapted to really quick!”
What is your goal this season?
“One of my main focuses this spring training is to repeat my delivery so I can consistently place where I want a pitch to be. This season I look forward to just focusing on winning and getting people out.”
Talk a little about your first spring training, what were you expecting?
“It’s exactly what I expected. There’s a lot of talent in this organization. I knew coming in my first year that I was going to have to compete and fight for a spot.”
There is a lot of opportunity for fan interaction, is that something you enjoy?
“I have no problem with fan interaction. Always good to meet new people. I think having a good connection with fans takes you a long way.”
How about some thoughts on minor league life as compared to the colllege, what stands out the most?
“One thing that really stands out for me is getting to play the game everyday without having to worry about school. You get to focus on the game, either playing or studying mechanics by looking at video. Always baseball, every day, all day.”
What’s Center, Texas like?
“Center is a small town. Lots of hunting, fishing and loving life everyday!”
What’s your baseball background and when did you realize that you had talent to be a pro player?
“I have played baseball my whole life. I would say my junior year of college it really clicked. I realized that I could play at the next level by having the will to win and the drive to work hard in every thing I do to get better.”
Do you expect to remain as a reliever or do you foresee returning to starting pitching?
“It doesn’t matter to me what role I play. Either will work, I will compete in whatever role I am placed.”
Who has been the biggest influence on you in baseball so far in regards to pitching? How did they influence you?
“My dad has been the biggest influence on me for sure! My mom has always backed me in everything I do but my dad has pushed me ever since I was little. He taught me everything I know and pushed me to be the best I can. One big thing he taught me was the mental side of the game. He’s always told me it’s mental, the talent will be there and it will come and to just grind it out and trust in the lord. He always told me you are either in or out, and you dictate where your train stops. Without him and without my grandpaw teaching him I wouldn’t be where I am today!”
Jonathan is yet another great prospect in the Phillies organization, I have seen him pitch in a couple of occasions and have been impressed by his demeanor, pitch location and pure stuff. He has an excellent breaking pitch that is sure to give left handed hitters fits but also possesses the velocity to rare back and let it loose when the situation requires doing so. Look for him to do very well this summer, I think he has a bright future ahead.