This week I got the chance to chat with New York Mets right-handed pitching prospect, Erik Goeddel. Erik pitched this year in the starting rotation for the Savannah Sand Gnats, in the South Atlantic League. He missed some time in the middle of last season because of an injury, but is back to 100% now and eager to start Spring Training. Heading into next season Goeddel is working on a new pitch which he details inside, let’s take a look at what else Erik had to say:
Petey: First of all congratulations Erik on a successful second pro season! Despite missing time with an injury, you still were able to log 77.2 innings over 16 game starts, going 3-5 with a 3.24 ERA between the GCL and Savannah, and you helped the Sand Gnats get to the championship round of the South Atlantic League playoffs. 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. When the Mets drafted you out of UCLA in the 24th 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?
Erik: I was actually just arriving at a practice and was getting changed at my locker when my phone started ringing. I picked it up and it was Spencer Graham, the LA area scout at the time, who said “congratulations, you’ve been drafted by the Mets.” I actually hadn’t talked to the Mets at all until about 7am that morning, so I really had no idea that they were very interested. I really had no idea where I would go in the draft, I was just coming off of injury, and seemed to be getting better as the season went on, but depending on when a scout saw me that season I felt like I could go anywhere from top 3 rounds to not being drafted at all haha.
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?
Erik: I dont know if there is any one specific coach or anything I have learned the most from, but I have been extremely lucky to have had a lot of great coaches as I grew up, and I think I learned quite a bit from all of them.
Petey: For those of us that haven’t seen you pitch yet, could you tell us a little bit about your arsenal? What pitches you throw, how they move, and at what speeds? Are you working on any new pitches moving forward? What is normally your approach to attacking hitters?
Erik: I throw a fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider. Fastball sits around 92-93, sometimes touches up to 96, but usually between 90-94 or 95. Change is low 80s, slider mid to high 80s, and curve is usually 78-80. I have been working on a sinker lately, hopefully it will be ready to go for this upcoming season. I pitch to hitters based off of whatever pitches are working best that day, and I will stay with the same approach on a hitter until he proves he can hit what I’m attacking him with.
Petey: After signing with the Mets in the summer of 2010, you only threw one inning for the GCL Mets before being shut down for the remainder of the season with what was called arm fatigue. Then while at Savannah this past year you had to go on the DL at the end of May, and missed two and a half months. What was the problem that landed you on the DL in 2011? You returned in August and made a few regular season starts and the a couple more starts in the play-offs, but were you a hundred percent recovered from your injury?
Erik: This last year I strained my rotator cuff, it wasn’t that bad but the Mets wanted to make sure I didnt rush my recovery and re-injure myself so they took it slow and that is why I was out for so long. I was 100% recovered when I got back to Savannah, but my feel was a bit off after being out of action for so long.
Petey: Have you set any goals for yourself, or have you any numbers in mind heading into this year Erik, as far as innings, or number of game starts?
Erik: This year I want to stay healthy for the whole year and get over 100 innings.
Petey: What is the one most important thing you learned about pitching this year at Savannah?
Erik: I learned a lot last year in Savannah, especially from our pitching coach Glen Abbott. He really taught me the importance of the change-up, and how it can make all your other pitches better.
Petey: What other aspects of your game do you still need to work on as a pitcher, to help you move up the organizational ladder?
Erik: I think the thing I probably need to work on most is just consistency. Some days I have great fastball command, but I can’t control my curveball. Other days I have great feel for my slider and curve, but leave my fastball up in the zone. When I have all of my pitches working, maybe not perfectly, but just enough that I can use them, then I generally have a pretty good outing.
Petey: When did your workout schedule begin, and when did you start throwing? Can you describe your regimen?
Erik: I started working out in the beginning of October. For about the first month and a half I did a lot of heavy weight lifting, just trying to get back the muscle mass that I lost over the course of the long season. About mid November I went to more function movements. All the lifts explosive on the up direction, and slow and controlled in the down direction. All the lifts I do here are full range of motion with stretching built in. The goal of this is to train my body to use the strength I have as efficiently as possible in the hopes of increasing my velocity. I also follow a strict diet. 6 days a week I dont have any empty carbs (Saturday is my “cheat day”) but instead have a lot of protein, vegetables, and legumes. A typical meal would be something like 16 ounces of ground turkey with tomato sauce, steamed broccoli, and some kidney beans. I started throwing right after Thanksgiving, slowly increasing the intensity of throwing, and the number of throws. Right now I am close to starting to throw bullpens.
Petey: What do you like to do for fun over the off-season?
Erik: For fun I really like playing golf, but I was taking classes at UCLA this fall so I wasn’t able to play as much as I would have liked.
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?
Erik: I was a big Giants fan growing up. They were a pretty good team when I was younger, and their offense was fun to watch. My favorite player was Ken Griffey Jr. I’m not sure if there is any one player that I pitch like, but I would say the two players I try to learn from and pitch like most would be Chris Carpenter and Matt Cain.
Petey: Those are certainly two excellent guys to emulate. 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.
Erik: One player who really impressed me this season was Blake Forsythe. He was at the field early everyday, and was almost always the last one to leave. I remember one day when I was pitching and it was so hot that I felt like I was going to pass out on the mound. I pitched 6 innings and was absolutely exhausted. The game ended up going 13 innings, and Blake caught the whole game, then caught nine the next day after traveling on a bus all day. The day after he got the day off from catching, but when I got to the field he was already there, doing some early work on his blocking. That really impressed me.
Petey: Very cool. To finish up Erik, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?
Petey: Haha! An equal opportunity eater! Thanks again Erik 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 enjoy the rest of your time off this winter. We’ll see ya on the “bump” at spring training!
It’s good to know that Erik is healthy again, with no lingering effects from his injury last year. Armed with a new sinker and an improved change-up, 2012 should be a very big year for him. During spring training he will either be in a dogfight for a starting spot in the Savannah rotation, or an equally fierce battle for a spot in the St. Lucie rotation. Let’s wish him the best as the pre-season draws ever closer. Perhaps we can check back with him during ST, to find out how things are going, what the mood is at camp, and maybe get his take on the competition.
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