Brew Crew Ball Sits Down with Joey Wiemer – Brew Crew Ball

When we last touched base with Joey Wiemer, he was a solid fourth round draft pick ready to show the Brewers system what he could offer.

His speed, power potential, and 80-grade arm made him a solid all-around fourth rounder, but his unorthodox swing left questions about whether he could hit consistently against higher velocities. In 2021, Wiemer has unleashed his raw power, consolidated his swing, and silenced his doubters.

Through July, Wiemer was having a productive first year with the Low-A Carolina Mudcats, notching 13 home runs along with a .399 wOBA and .868 OPS. This was good for a Milwaukee Brewers 2021 Robin Yount Minor League Player of the Year.

Then, Wiemer absolutely broke out, making a few small mechanics changes, starting lower in his swing and toning a big leg kick down into a toe tap. The results earned him a promotion to the High-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in early August.

Over the remainder of the regular season, he slashed .336/.428/.719 (1.146 OPS) with a 195 WRC+. Wiemer made three appearances on Baseball America’s Best Tool List (Outfield Arm, Power Bat, Most Exciting Player). He also showed an impressive amount of composure, coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit.

His speed, instincts, and smarts (in addition to his arm), allow him the versatility to formidably hold down any outfield spot.

Wiemer went on to tear it up in the Arizona Fall League, where he’s slashed .467/.568/.667 (1.234 OPS). He earned a roster spot on Saturday’s 2021 Arizona Fall League All Stars Game, but won’t participate because of a minor thumb injury.

I sat down with Joey to talk about his 2021 breakout season and what he’s looking forward to in 2022.

Lindsey

How are you enjoying your time in the Arizona Fall League?

Joey Wiemer

Oh, I’m loving it. So I had a little thing with my thumb. I’ve been out probably the last week. But other than that, you know it’s been really good. Love the guys out here, love the team. It’s really laid back. Kind of just, you know, a fun environment to compete against the best. So it’s been good out here.

Lindsey

You’ve been described as a kinetic, high-energy, hard-hitting, hard-throwing player. How do you describe yourself as a player?

Joey Wiemer

Uh, yeah, kind of just everything. You hit it right on the head with the high energy, kinetic movement, everything. Just go out there and enjoy my time. I feel like I really just let my athleticism play. I don’t really think too much. You know, especially when I hit. I know there’s a lot of guys that overthink a lot of things, and I obviously have my cage work and routine where I’m working on stuff. But you know when it comes to the game, it’s just competing. It’s me versus the pitcher in the box so- Just go out there and be the best. Just high energy. I love competing so just going out there and playing 100% every day.

Lindsey

Do you have any plans for the offseason?

Joey Wiemer

Uh, not really. Just being religious every day with my work, weight room, staying mobile. Keeping up with my speed, putting good weight on but not losing a step. Getting my throw and getting my hitting. Just everything to get myself physically and mentally ready for next year.

Lindsey

You’ve credited some of the hitting mechanics changes you’ve made to Zavier Warren. Of your teammates in the Arizona Fall League, who have you enjoyed playing with? Anyone you’ve learned from?

Joey Wiemer

Uh, honestly, out here, we haven’t really broke down hitting a ton.

Everyone’s kind of on their own routine, but I know there’s a couple of guys, whether it be Kreidler or De La Rosa that are really, really into the whole thought process of the swing.

So those guys have been two really good guys to bounce ideas off of.

Lindsey

You had a number of clutch hits in 2021, including multiple walk-offs. Can you walk us through what goes through your mind when you’re at the plate in a clutch situation?

Joey Wiemer

It’s just staying level-headed. Honestly, not treating that at-bat any different than any other ones. You don’t need to be the hero of every at-bat, so get something to hit, go to 1st. You do get something to hit, do damage with it. I’ve just been lucky enough to pop three of them out in those times.

Lindsey

One of those clutch hits came on a game in early September in the ninth inning. You had been struggling at the plate that day. Any change in approach when you’re struggling?

Joey Wiemer

Again, It’s the same situation as any other clutch at-bats. It’s just going up there, same thing. Hitter versus pitcher. Go ahead, and if you get your pitch, I happen to get it, do damage with it. But yeah, that day was a little more frustrating than most of them. I think I left probably 100 guys on base. It’s probably the worst day at the plate I’d ever had. I was just lucky enough to be in that situation at the end of the game. And I got my pitch and hit it.

Lindsey

How is playing in the minor leagues in general lived up to your expectations and has anything surprised you?

Joey Wiemer

It’s been pretty on par with what I had heard. Nothing crazy. Obviously, the best of the best playing out there. It was really nice to get in a really good rhythm of playing every day. Not just on the weekends, or sprinkling in some midweeks. But if you’re feeling good, you’re waking up in 12 hours and going right back to the field. So that was really nice. And on the flip side of that, if things aren’t going well, whatever. You go home, go to bed, wake up, come right back. So you have a chance the next day to fix some things.

Lindsey

What are you anticipating for next season?

Joey Wiemer

I’m not a big number goal guy. So I get myself into trouble, especially hitting, if I think like that. That was another big takeaway from this year. You don’t need to be cheap before every game. You don’t need to get hit every game. If you’re 0-3 going into that 4th AB you don’t need to chase a hit, take your walk. 0 for 3 is a lot better than 0 for 4, and that’ll help immensely a lot. So that was a big takeaway for me at the plate this year.

Lindsey

A lot’s been written about you going from a leg kick to a toe tap in your swing. You’ve talked about the impact of starting lower in your swing. Are you working on any new tweaks to your swing or any other part of your game or enjoying the benefits of the changes you’ve made already?

Joey Wiemer

Yeah, I mean as of right now I’m a big, big fan of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Obviously, there’s things I need to do, adjustments I need to make. But where my feet are at right now, I’m really happy with the way I’m swinging it and the way I feel at the plate. So just kind of let me ride right now.

Lindsey

You got to spend some time in WI after your promotion to High A. Being from Michigan, had you spent much time in WI before?

Joey Wiemer

No, I really hadn’t. I think when I went out to Milwaukee for my physical after the draft, it was probably the first time I’ve ever been to Wisconsin. Yeah, I love it. It’s pretty much Michigan, just a little bit West. [laughs] There weren’t any massive differences. It’s the good old Midwest.

Lindsey

You got 3 mentions on Baseball America’s Best Tool List – power bat, outfield, arm, and most exciting player. What do these accolades mean to you at this point in your career?

Joey Wiemer

They’re awesome, it’s something to be able to see. I get a couple of congrats for it, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything if that’s the height of what I do. I’m kind of just turning that potential into results, so it’s nice to be acknowledged in that aspect, but just continuing to work and be that player that quote/unquote tooled up to be.

Lindsey

Joey Wiemer

I actually talked about this recently, I want to say like a week ago, on a podcast. Kind of just talking about the overall game of baseball and I think one thing that’s really undervalued or underappreciated is defense. And I take a lot of pride in my defense and, not even just the arm, but being where you’re supposed to be, whether that be backing up or just communication in the outfield. I think that’s a really underrated part of my game. I feel like I’m a pretty good outfielder.

Lindsey

You profile solidly in right field. Is there anywhere else you feel comfortable on defense?

Joey Wiemer

Yeah. Man, I haven’t played infield since high school. But I’d be comfortable if that needed to be. And yeah, especially in the outfield I mean not to oversimplify it, but the ball’s in the air – go get it. It’s on the ground – throw it in. That’s really something I don’t overthink. I think that’s part of just being a good outfielder. It’s all muscle memory at this point. I’m comfortable everywhere: left, center, right. So yeah, I feel like I’m pretty versatile in the outfield.

Lindsey

You’ve been called the Paul Bunyan of the AFL. Do you hope that nickname catches on or prefer it stays in Arizona?

Joey Wiemer

Honestly, that’s probably one that can stay in Arizona. (laughs) I mean I don’t mind it. It’s cool, it’s funny. But yeah, that’s new to me.

Lindsey

Part of your 2021 breakout was 30 stolen bases. I’m curious about what you think of the new stolen base rules in the minor leagues?

Joey Wiemer

I don’t mind them. I like them. It’s something I really feel like I didn’t utilize that much this year. And honestly, I got picked off twice, I think like mentally because of it. So I had gotten picked over twice and got back and then the third time I was just so just leaning not thinking he was gonna pick off at all.

And I got picked twice by it this year so – I don’t know. I feel like I like it as part of the game. Wanna make the game more exciting, more runs, whatever. So I don’t really have a strong stance on it, but I like it.

Lindsey

Reading other interviews, it seems like you tend to cut your mullet after a season. Any intention or ritual in that for you?

Joey Wiemer

It’s not really like a ritual, like a fresh start.I kind of just want to be able to walk into a store and not have people look at me sideways for having a mullet. The hair’s kind of honestly become a part of me and my persona as a player. And it’s something we started at high school. It’s where we started doing it and then I took it to college and it stuck And then brought it here and it stuck. So I don’t know how long it’s gonna last. [laughs] But it’s been a part of me. I don’t see myself not having it in-season for a while.

Lindsey

Given the level of success you’ve experienced in your first full minor league season, how do you plan to maintain focus and growth across your career?

Joey Wiemer

Yeah, honestly, I think it’s just being in rhythm, playing every day.Again getting to compete against the best of the best and just figuring out what it takes to be better and continue to grow as a player. Yeah, I mean everything from this year is already in the rearview mirror. Just really happy it happened. I was really happy with this year. I’ll continue to build on that success. But you know, as time winds down out here. It’s about to be time to head into offseason mode and just focus on getting ready for next year – physically, mentally. So I’m again really happy it happened, but hopefully, that’s not the peak. [laughs]. So just continue to work and get better every day.

This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.