I had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with 23-year-old, New York Mets minor league pitcher, RHP Ryan Fraser the other day. In just two years of professional baseball with the Mets, the 6’3″ Fraser has made some very favorable impressions on people who follow the team. He was the Brooklyn Cyclones closer in 2010 registering 12 saves, and he was an anchor in the starting rotation last season at Savannah of the South Atlantic League, leading the pitching staff with 138.1 innings for a team that came one strike away from winning the league championship. The talent, confidence, and versatility he has exhibited so far makes him a very intriguing prospect going forward. Ryan was nice enough to answer a few questions for us at MMO, read on to find out what he had to say:
Petey: First of all congratulations Ryan on a very successful second pro season! As a hard-throwing right-hander with good command, you were one of the horses in the Savannah Sand Gnats rotation this past season, going 7-9 with a 3.58 ERA, in 21 GS. You also helped the Gnats get to the championship round of the South Atlantic League playoffs, where you guys came very close to winning the whole thing. It must have been quite an exciting year for you, I would imagine. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. Are you back home in the Volunteer State for the winter holidays? How are things?
Ryan: Thanks Peter! After our unfortunate ending to an incredible season I made my way back to the Volunteer State but I’d prefer to call it good ol’ Tennessee since I’m not a Volunteer fan. (I was born in Florida and grew up a Gator fan) Things are good: I have definitely enjoyed my time off with my family and friends.
Petey: When the Mets drafted you out of the University of Memphis in the 16th round of the 2010 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you know the Mets were interested in drafting you? What round(s) were you thinking you might be taken in the draft?
Ryan: I was very fortunate to be home with my family when I was selected by the Mets last June. We had the draft pulled up on the internet, while we anxiously waited. I had no idea which club liked me or an idea of a round to be expecting, so I tried to keep my self busy and not stare at the computer screen all day. I thought my dad exploded when he heard my name called. The feeling was a mix of excitement and accomplishment like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. It felt like that because I worked so hard for a chance to play professionally.
Petey: Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you have learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of one day becoming a major league baseball player?
Ryan: Unfortunately Peter I cannot narrow that down to one person. First I have to start with my parents and the way they raised me. They have always inspired me to work hard no matter what I was doing. They have always supported me; it means a lot when they never missed a game. Another person that stands out was my pitching coach, Fred Corral at the University of Memphis. Being one of the best pitching coaches around, he was one of the key contributors to turning that program around. He always had something new for us to become mentally tough.
Petey: Tell us a little bit about your arsenal. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and are you working on any new pitches moving forward? What is normally your approach to attacking hitters?
Ryan: I’m not a “crafty” pitcher, trying to out think the hitters. I only have three pitches and I just try to attack the best I can with those, going right after hitters and throwing strikes. To break it down, I throw fastball, curveball, and change-up. Some people question my curveball and think its a slider. I would like to call it a “power slurve” if there’s such a pitch. I don’t like to know the speed of them cause it doesn’t matter as long as you get the hitters out and give your team an opportunity to win.
Petey: In 2010, your first professional season, you were the closer for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the New York Penn League. Pretty great place to play isn’t it? You got a little taste of what the New York baseball fan is like. As the closer in Brooklyn you went 3-3 with a 1.44 ERA and 12 saves. This past season you threw 138.1 innings mostly as a starter for Savannah. Which role do you enjoy more? Moving forward, would you prefer to start, or close?
Ryan: The few months that I got to play in Brooklyn was intense. By that, I mean the fan base every night at MCU Park made you fall in love with the game all over again. We had a talented team and playing for Wally made it fun. It was a shame that we couldn’t take home the league championship. I loved closing in Brooklyn. We had the same opportunity to win the league in Savannah but the same thing happened. Looking at my numbers from this season in Savannah, I would like another opportunity to start. This might sound funny but I think there was less pressure on me coming in to close. I don’t have a problem being in either role, so I wish I could just see the future and see whichever role gets me to the big leagues faster.
Petey: What is the most important thing you learned about pitching this year at Savannah?
Ryan: I learned a lot from this past season. The most important thing I learned was the power of the change-up. I threw it more per game than I did in all the games I pitched in, in 2010. Its important to have a good change-up to keep hitters more off balance. Although it took me a whole season to learn, I think it has developed into a pretty good pitch when I throw it right.
Petey: That is going to be a huge pitch for you moving forward. Is there one aspect to your game, or more than one, that you still need to work on as a pitcher, before you will be ready to compete on the “big stage.”
Ryan: This year we were constantly reminded that the big leagues are not as far away as we sometimes think, even though I think I have a lot to learn. Picking up where I left off from the previous paragraph, I need to further develop all of my pitches to where I can throw them for strikes whenever I want. To help accomplish this feat, I need to learn how to repeat my delivery for every pitch. If I can do that then I have a chance.
Petey: What do you like to do for fun over the off-season? When does your workout schedule begin? Can you describe your workout regimen?
Ryan: I am very active, so for fun I like to get outdoors. I prefer to fish, ride bikes, hike, play and watch football, and anything on the water like: swim, boat, canoe, tube, ski, and jet ski. My girlfriend lives in Ohio and I was able to ride some of the best rollercoasters at Cedar Point as well as attend some Browns football games.Things that keep me entertained. The Mets gave us a workout regimen that started a month or two ago.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself pitching like someday in the majors?
Ryan: Running around McKechnie Field in Bradenton as a kid, I liked the Pirates but that was before I knew any better. My favorite team growing up was the Braves looking up to players like Maddux, Smoltzie, and of course Chipper, but my favorite player I think was Ken Griffey Jr. I thought he was gonna become the best….ever. Being a better pitcher than hitter nowadays, I look up to Halladay. If I can improve on the areas discussed from question 6, I think I could be that good.
Petey: Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at Savannah, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.
Ryan: One player that impressed me was Albert “Dragon” Cordero, one of our catchers in Savannah. He is a young guy with a great arm, and sometimes when he hit the ball I could have sworn I saw fire come out of his mouth. He will always be Dragon to me.
Petey: I’m really glad you brought him up Ryan. He has gotten quite a bit of buzz on our website, ever since the middle of last season when he really started to pour it on. Many, including myself consider him the Mets number one catching prospect at this time. I’m looking forward to interviewing Dragon one of the these days. To finish up Ryan, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Ryan: My favorite movie of all time is Rudy. Favorite band is AC/DC and I will always have one of their songs as my walkout. My favorite food is (probably) lasagna even though I am a steak n’ tater kind a guy.
Petey: Thanks again Ryan for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a very happy, and healthy holidays, and enjoy your time off this winter!
Ryan: Thanks Pete!
Well that was a very interesting interview with yet another promising Mets prospect who will be a lot of fun to keep track of as he advances through the upper levels of the farm system. I look for Ryan to open the 2012 season in the starting rotation at St. Lucie, but a strong first half could earn him a mid-season call-up to AA. Stay tuned.
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