This week I caught up with NY Mets right-handed pitching prospect, Bret Mitchell. Bret was the 2011 Sterling Award Winner as the Kingsport Mets Pitcher of the Year. The Mets were fortunate to be able to get a quality arm like Mitchell’s with their 12th round pick in the 2010 draft. Now, after rehabbing from an injury suffered at the end of last year, he is poised to have a big season in 2012. Bret was nice enough to answer questions about his pitching as a professional so far, and where he sees his game heading into this year. Check it out to see what else Bret had to say:
Petey: We are chatting today with New York Mets right-handed pitching prospect Bret Mitchell, who pitched last season for the Kingsport Mets, and the Brooklyn Cyclones. Hi Bret, thanks so much for taking the time out to do this interview for our readers and staff at MetsMerizedOnline.com. I hope you had a very nice Christmas, and a happy New Year. Did you spend the holidays back home in Minnesota with family and friends? How much snow do you have there?
Bret: I had a great time in Minnesota this year for the holidays. I have a big family and it is great when I get a chance to see all of them. It has been a great winter here, I have been able to play catch outside which is something I’m not used to doing in Minnesota in January.
Petey: When the Mets drafted you out of Minnesota State University in the 12th 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?
Bret: The day I got drafted I was on the bus getting ready to start a game in Alexandria, MN, in the Northwoods League. My cousin called me and gave me the news. I talked to the Mets a couple of times and they said they were interested, but I had no idea until that phone rang.
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?
Bret: I’ve been playing baseball my entire life so picking one person is very hard. I have had a lot of great coaches but my older brother Jerry has always been there. He gave me the confidence to keep going with my career.
Petey: If you could fill us in on your arsenal Bret. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and are you working on any new pitches moving forward? What is generally your approach to attacking hitters?
Bret: I have a four pitch arsenal of: fastball, curveball, slider, change. My fastball is high 80′s – low 90′s. My curve is a 12-6, which I use for my out pitch. I started throwing my change-up last year, and I give it a lot of the credit for my success last year. My slider is my 4th pitch. It is hard, and I use it as another way to keep hitters unbalanced. My approach to pitching is attacking early, throw strikes, mix pitches and set a tempo.
Petey: The 2011 baseball season opened for you playing in the Appalachian League for the Kingsport Mets, where you got off to a fantastic start. You made 7 game starts going 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA. In 39.2 innings you gave up 24 hits, while striking out 38 and walking 12, giving you an opponents batting average against of .175, and a WHIP of 0.91. That terrific effort got you a call-up to Brooklyn, in the New York Penn League, at the beginning of August. What was the biggest thing you got from your experience of playing at Kingsport?
Bret: Learning how to call my own game was something I worked hard on there, and something I’m still working on a lot.
Petey: After your promotion, you made one start for Brooklyn on August 7th against the Staten Island Yankees in which you left with two outs in the 5th inning and a 7-2 lead. Were you injured, or was it a pitch count thing? I noticed you were put on the DL a few days later with a groin strain, which must have been a big disappointment. Were you recovered in time to go to instructs?
Bret: It was a pitch count thing, but it was probably best for me to come out because I did end up straining my groin during that game. I wasn’t ready in time for instructs but I’m 100% now.
Petey: How did you like your time playing in Brooklyn?
Bret: I enjoyed my time in Brooklyn, playing in New York was a great experience.
Petey: What part of your game are you planning on working the hardest on this coming season?
Bret: Staying healthy is number one. But I’m working on a 2-seam fastball as well, hopefully it will be ready for this season.
Petey: What is the most important thing you have learned about pitching in your professional career so far?
Bret: The most important thing to me is trusting myself, stay the course and keep working hard.
Petey: What do you like to do for fun over the off-season? When did your serious workout schedule begin? Can you describe your workout regimen?
Bret: I like to be outdoors, staying active, and spending time with my family and friends. I was rehabbing my groin during the beginning of the off-season, but now I’m 4 weeks into my throwing program. I’m still working on strengthening my groin so I do the rehab for that in the morning. I play catch with my catcher from college. After catch I run and do my work out for the day.
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?
Bret: I have lived in Minnesota my entire life so naturally I grew up a Twins fan. I have always had an interest in Nolan Ryan. I loved the way he would just attack the hitter and try to dominate the game. Also we were both taken 12th round by the Mets.
Petey: Haha! I see you did some research on that! If you could, pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year for the Kingsport Mets or Brooklyn Cyclones, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.
Bret: Tillman Pugh impressed me a lot with his skills, but more importantly to me, he plays hard everyday and he just wants to win.
Petey: I had the pleasure of getting to know Tillman a little bit this off-season, and he is a terrific guy and a serious competitor for sure. To finish up Bret, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Bret: My favorite movie I got to go with Tommy Boy it gets me every time. I like listening to the radio either classic rock, or sports talk shows. My favorite food would be anything homemade, or seafood.
Petey: Thanks again Bret for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a very happy, and healthy New Year, and we’ll see you on the bump at spring training!
Bret: Thank you for asking me to do this if you have anything else you would like to know, feel free to ask. Thank you again.
Mitchell is a very interesting pitching prospect for the Mets. He has a good chance of winning a spot in the Savannah rotation for this year, and if he stays healthy, can place himself squarely on the Top Prospect Map in 2012. He’s a good guy and we wish him the best!
For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.