MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Minor League LHP Zach Dotson
I caught up to NY Mets left-handed pitching prospect, Zach Dotson the other day. I asked him how his health is, and is he ready to pitch when spring training begins next month. We discussed the health of his shoulder, his suspension last year, his pitching repertoire, and his expectations for 2012. After barely pitching over the last two seasons since being drafted, Dotson remains somewhat of a mystery to Mets fans. Perhaps in this interview Zach will clear that up, and I am quite sure many of his answers will surprise you. Read on to see what he had to say:
Petey: We are chatting with Zach Dotson, minor league left-handed pitcher for the New York Mets. Hi Zach, thanks for taking the time out to join us for an interview. When do you head down to St. Lucie?
Zach: Hey Peter, I just got down to Florida and settled in.
Petey: That’s awesome, spring is in the air! You must be psyched for baseball to start? When the Mets drafted you out of Effingham County High School (Savannah, GA), in the 13th round of the 2009 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?
Zach: I had a good idea they were going to take me. The 3rd round was the round I was expecting, but we couldn’t come to terms financially.
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?
Zach: Yes, Stacy Bennett a former coach of mine and current friend inspired me to chase my dream. Stacy also played for the Mets minor leagues a few years back. I continue to work with him in the off seasons.
Petey: In your first two seasons since being drafted, you have had to endure some issues that prevented you from taking the field. Because of this you have only logged 17 innings so far in pro ball. I’m sure you must be chomping at the bit to get back on the field. If memory serves me right, I believe you initially ran into some arm problems in 2010, and then in August of that year, you were suspended for 50 games, by MLB for testing positive for methylhexeamine. That isn’t exactly a performance enhancing drug, it’s more like a sinus medication, with mild stimulant properties and is present in many over the counter supplements. How did you happen to test positive for it?
Zach: When I was in rehab in 2010 for my shoulder, I started taking a pre-workout supplement and was not aware of the banned substance in it.
Petey: By the time you got back on the field last year, the season was nearly over. Is your arm and general health ok? Are you ready to pitch this season from the get-go, with no limitations?
Zach: Yes, I am fully healthy now, and ready to go.
Petey: The existing scouting reports on your pitches are rather dated. If you could, update us a little 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?
Zach: My pitches are fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider. 88-92 topping at 93 on my fastball. My approach to hitters is to get ahead. Attack the zone.
Petey: What is the most important thing you have learned about pitching in your professional career so far?
Zach: The most important thing I have learned about pitching is “location”.
Petey: They say the same thing about location in real estate, haha. What part of your game are you planning on working the hardest on this coming season?
Zach: I’m really working hard to stay healthy and throw strikes.
Petey: Amen. Words for a successful pitcher to live by. What do you like to do for fun over the off-season? When does your serious workout schedule begin?
Zach: I like to go hunting and fishing in the offseason. I usually take a few weeks off and then start training again.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player?
Zach: My favorite team growing up was the Atlanta Braves. My favorite player was Chipper Jones.
Petey: Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year for the GCL Mets.
Zach: I was in rehab all of 2011 so I was not able to see the GCL season.
Petey: Swing-and-a-miss! Oh well, how bout we finish up then with a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Petey: Thanks again Zach for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Good luck in spring training, and we’ll see you on the “bump” real soon!
Now that is some really good news! Not many people realized that Zach would be a contributor in 2012. But it’s looking more and more like that will be the case. And it’s not bad at all to be able to add a 21-year-old south-paw who has four pitches and can throw in the low 90′s, to your system’s pitching mix heading into spring training. And the Mets actually have two of them. Zach Dotson and Steve Matz, who I did an interview with on MMO last week.
The question we can start to ask now, is where will they both most likely start the season? I believe they will both start out in the Kingsport rotation, in the rookie leagues. For one thing, it’s the lowest rung of the Mets stateside minor league ladder, and if they quickly show they are beyond the Appalachian League competition, they can be promoted to Brooklyn. I’d actually be all for that since then I’d be able to see them pitch in person. I don’t think Savannah is a viable landing spot for either pitcher in 2012 due to a pitching log-jam in the starting rotation there, unless they were promoted there towards the end of the year.
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About the Author: Peter Shapiro
The first time I went to Shea was not for a Mets game, it was for the Beatles concert there in August of '66. My first Met game was '67, a guy named Salty Parker was the interim-manager then. My first pennant race was 1969. As a 12 year-old that summer and fall, I managed to get to the park for 3 games. The first was the beginning of the Miracle which actually started on Tuesday July 8, 1969 with a day game against the Cubs. I was there a lot in '73. I saw games 3 & 5 of the 1973 NL Playoffs against the "Big Red Machine", from the upper deck behind home plate. It was from there that I witnessed the fight between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, and the mayhem that ensued. And that sweet victory in game 5! I saw a couple of WS games at Shea that year against that legendary Oakland A's club. I was there in 1985 for every single game Dr. K pitched including his two 16 strikeout performances, and the day he one-hit the Cubs on an infield single and the Mets won 1-0. I loved being a Met fan in those days. Hopefully we are once again preparing to emerge from the darkness.
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