A Conversation With Milwaukee Brewers Prospect Joey Wiemer

Joey Wiemer began tapping into his tools this year. Explosive but raw coming into his first full professional season, the 2020 fourth-round pick out of the University of Cincinnati slashed .293/.403/.556 and went deep 27 times in 472 plate appearances between Low-A Carolina and High-A Wisconsin. Moreover, he belied his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame by swiping 30 bases in 36 attempts. It came as little surprise when the Milwaukee Brewers named the 22-year-old outfielder their 2021 Minor League Player of the Year.

Wiemer — No. 2 on our just released Brewers Top Prospects list — discussed his breakout in the penultimate week of the Arizona Fall League season, where he was playing for the Salt River Rafters.


David Laurila: You exceeded most expectations in your first professional season. What changes have you made as a hitter?

Joey Wiemer: “A lot of it has been cutting down on my head movement and getting lower in my stance. My thought process was mostly the same. Swing-wise, my hands… I’m really athletic when I hit, so I’m trying to think mechanically, as opposed to just competing. That’s in my cage work. In the game, it’s about trusting what I do in the cage.”

Laurila: Can you elaborate on your stance?

Wiemer: “I’m lower and more widened out, with more of a toe-tap as opposed to the big leg kick I used to have. I started working on that in independent ball, during the 2020 season. I went out and played some indie ball so I could get some live ABs, get some reads, to really feel that change. And honestly, my swing is quicker now than it was at the start of this year. I have more hand movement, preload. I feel like everything is more direct now.”

Laurila: Whose suggestion was it get wider?

Wiemer: “I had talked to Zavier Warren, one of my teammates. I was hitting balls hard — I was happy with the contact I was making — but I really wasn’t getting the ball in the air. He said I should try to start lower in my stance, and that ended up cutting down my head movement. I became more compact and able to lift the ball more out of that.”

Laurila: What about the swing itself? Has that changed?

Wiemer: “Not really. My swing plane hasn’t changed a ton; I want to get barrel to ball, direct with my hands. I want to be an athlete. Really, I’m just starting lower. I feel like I’m seeing the ball better now, and I’m also catching it more out front. That has really helped.”

Laurila: What was the primary message you were getting from your hitting coaches this spring?

Wiemer: “Honestly, just work on… not even thinking about ball flight. I’m not a big launch-angle guy, and some of that new-age stuff, but being comfortable catching it more out front will lead to more balls in the air, and getting to my power.”

Laurila: You’re obviously built for power. What is you height and weight?

Wiemer: “I’m probably 6-foot-4-and-a-half, maybe 6–5 on a good day. I weigh around 230 [pounds] right now.”

Laurila: Earlier this year, I read that you’re really aggressive with your swing.

Wiemer: “There’s kind of a notion that I’m super-swing, chase-happy, given all the moving parts and the aggressiveness of my swing. But I’m happy with… I believe that I hit the ball in my zone a lot. I think I’m pretty good with chase rate. I feel that I’m able to get my pitches and do damage.”

Laurila: If I’m remembering correctly, the report was referring to the swing itself: you take a pretty hefty hack and are trying to hit the ball a mile.

Wiemer: “That’s my thing. I do have a max-effort swing. My thing is to try to hit the ball as hard as possible; it’s not to try to hit the ball as far as possible. When I try to hit the ball as far as possible, I tend to get too pull-happy, and my swing starts to not work as well.”

Laurila: Have you tried to tone it down a little bit, to see what that felt like?

Wiemer: “Yeah. That was actually part of my indie-ball stint, but it didn’t go well. The experience was good though, because I was able to experiment with things, and the results didn’t really matter. It was more about getting my feels. At the end, a more-aggressive swing just feels more natural to me.”

Laurila: Your strikeout rate [22.2%] this year wasn’t all that high.

Wiemer: “That’s another thing. The notion that I’m going to be a big strikeout guy because of my swing… again, I feel like I do a pretty good job of hitting the ball in my zone.”

Laurila: One other thing on your power: Is it primarily pull side, or is more center and right-center?

Wiemer: “Most of my home runs this year were pull side, but I’m really comfortable going back side. I think that’s just kind of a length thing. Breaking down my video, sometimes there are balls outside that I pull, and sometimes there are balls inside that I shoot the other way. I’m kind of long, so for me it’s kind of just seeing the ball and reacting.”

Laurila: How satisfied are you with your season?

Wiemer: “There’s always room for improvement, but I was really happy with it, especially the back half of the season. Things really started to click, and I’ll take some of those feels into next year. But I still have a lot of work to do. I need to be religious in my preparation this offseason, getting my lifts in, getting my hitting in, getting my throwing in. Every day, I need to keep working. I need to keep trying to become a better ballplayer.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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