James said Denney could be a player who becomes more consistent against the high-level pitching he'll see in the minors than he was in high school.
“When he's seen quality pitching, he's hit it,” James said. “He's not going to ever see 70 (mph) again.”
Law wrote on his most recent mock draft that Denney could find a home elsewhere on the field eventually.
“Behind the plate, he has arm strength and his release is fine, but his receiving is shaky, especially on balls down in or below the zone, where he tends to slap down at the ball rather than catching it cleanly and holding it,” Law wrote. “He has an excellent catcher's build, not too tall, broad and durable, but isn't the kind of higher-energy, more athletic catcher teams seem to favor now.”
Denney's footwork has improved greatly behind the plate, according to James.
“For me, he's the quickest catcher I've seen,” James said. “I didn't get to see (Midwest City's) A.J. Hinch play until he was in the big leagues, but Jonathan's a big old strong kid. He's very smooth behind the plate. That's his nickname — smooth. That's how he goes about his business back there.”
Hinch, a Midwest City product, was in the big leagues less than two years after he was drafted, though Hinch attended college before entering pro ball.
Denney has signed with Arkansas, though figures to sign if he's picked in the first round.
If he does make the first round, Denney would be the second Millers player in five years to go in the first round. Chad James was picked No. 18 overall by the Marlins in 2009.
He'd also be only the second state high school catcher to be picked in the first round, joining Southeast's Darrell Porter, who was taken No. 4 overall in 1970.