Fort Wayne outfielder Danny Payne, a fringe leadoff-sort who posted a .381 OBP in High-A last year, got off to a dreadful .156/.257/.219 start upon repeating the level this year.
At 24, Payne really couldn’t afford that misstep and retain his prospectdom, and he seemingly really couldn’t afford a demotion to Fort Wayne, which he received earlier this month.
But you have to give Payne some credit. Time and time again, prospects struggle after being demoted (probably for various psychological reasons), but he hasn’t followed suit.
Payne has hit .319/.435/.478 for the TinCaps, which is exactly what he needed to do to stay on the radar screen.
That makes two statements about him. First, he still has his skills. Second, he’s mentally tough.
It’s great to see Payne producing in a Fort Wayne lineup that has struggled somewhat early in the year, as many Midwest League offenses do in the cold weather.