MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets First-Base Prospect Cole Frenzel
I had the pleasure of speaking by phone yesterday with New York Mets, 2011 7th round draft choice, minor league first-baseman Cole Frenzel. I was able to throw a great many questions Cole’s way, and he fielded them all sure-handedly, without so much as a bobble. Cole told me he had left the chilly clime of his native North Dakota, and headed for the sunshine of Arizona, in order to get a little warm weather hitting in. And he certainly sounds ready for spring training to begin. It was very nice of Cole to put aside some time to answer questions for the all of us at MMO. Check it out and see what he had to say:
Petey: First of all congratulations Cole on a terrific year! From being the 7th round pick in the draft by the Mets, to making your professional debut playing in front of the awesome fans in Brooklyn and helping the Cyclones get into the New York Penn League Playoffs. It must have been a very exciting year for you, I would imagine. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions for our readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. You are from North Dakota originally, do you still live there in the off-season?
Cole: Yes I do. Yep, at the end of the season I go up home, and I live with my parents, my family. And I have brothers and sisters they live in Fargo, North Dakota. I’m from Dickinson, so I travel back and forth from Fargo to Dickinson.
Petey: How far apart are the two?
Cole: About a three and a half hour drive. Fargo is in the eastern part of the state bordering Minnesota, Dickinson is on the western side of the state bordering Montana. So you drive across the state but I got a lot of buddies that go to school at ASU, a lot of my friends from high school. and I got buddies that play baseball there, so I got to go see them quite a bit. So it’s not too bad. I get to hunt and fish a lot, it’s what I do most of my time in the off-season, when I’m not working out.
Petey: So how are things going for you these days? Are you all ready for spring training?
Cole: Yeah definitely, can’t wait. I’ve spent the off-season getting ready to go there and I’m pretty fired up. It should be exciting, I’m looking forward to it.
Petey: Have you been able to take some swings and start getting your timing down yet?
Cole: Oh yeah, I’ve been hitting, just taking BP in the cages, I haven’t seen live pitching yet. But when I was up in Fargo they have this new baseball simulator, which simulates a pitcher throwing and then it comes out of a machine from a projected pitcher. That thing was pretty cool. So I got to hit off that quite a bit. And then just BP down here everyday in Arizona, and take ground balls, and just get back into the swing of things.
Petey: When the Mets drafted you in the 7th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft, out of the University of Arizona, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like?
Cole: Well it was actually a different kind of way for me cause we were at a championship game in the regionals that day. We were at Texas A&M, so during the draft we were playing a game. You know I wasn’t sure when I was going, it was the second day, so I wasn’t even sure if I was going at all. So we played the game and my focus at the time was with my team, and I wanted to win that game, and I wanted to advance. So we ended up losing the game, and then right after the game I had a whole bunch of text messages, and missed calls, and voice mails. When I read it I got a text from my dad who was at the game that I’d been drafted and all that stuff. So it was bittersweet, it was one of the best days of my life, at the same time it was a disappointing day because our team had just lost out of the regional and our season was over. But it was a great feeling you know, to be able to be drafted. I feel really blessed to have that opportunity, you know what I mean?
Petey: Oh yeah.
Cole: It was a real bittersweet day for me, I mean it’s definitely a day I’ll never forget, honestly, but it’s a day we all felt kind of disappointed that we lost.
Petey: Boy that’s some story, to have two conflicting things happen like that on the same day.
Cole: It definitely was, yeah.
Petey: Did you know the Mets were interested in drafting you beforehand?
Cole: Yeah I did. I had talked to John Harriman, he’s the scout I talked to. I met with him a couple of times and talked to him so I knew they had interest yeah. But you never can know until it’s official, I was in the middle of my college season so I wasn’t trying to worry about it or anything, I just wanted to play baseball, and whatever happens happens, you know?
Petey: Did you have a range in mind where you thought you might go? Any expectations going into the draft?
Cole: I didn’t really have any expectations of where I’d go. I mean, everyone will tell you they want to be a first-round draft pick. I mean, I wasn’t extremely worried about it, I was a sophomore, I wasn’t caught up in it because I knew I had a whole other year. We had a good team this year in college at Arizona, and next year we’ve got a great team. So I wasn’t all worried about it and everything, but if I did get the opportunity to where it would be a good chance for me to play in an organization that would take a chance with me, then I would do it.
Petey: Actually you were in a very good position to negotiate because you could still go back to Arizona for one, or even two more years if you had to.
Cole: Exactly, that’s exactly right. It was a win-win situation.
Petey: Is there one person, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of becoming a major league baseball player?
Cole: Well I’d probably have to say growing up, my dad. We’d play catch in the backyard, whiffle ball every day. Everyone was a huge part of it, all my friends, when I grew up I was always fortunate enough to have good players to play with around me. As I graduated high school, we had good teams and won state tournaments. But my dad was always there, I’d go hit with him, and I’d work on things with him all the time. Even in the off-season, I played three sports, baseball, football, and hockey. So like, during hockey season I’d go hit in the cage with him when I had time. My dad was always there to help me out. He played college baseball and my brother played college baseball, so it was easier for me cause I was the youngest one coming up and I could talk to him about things. And my coaches in high school, I had coach Dobitz, who was a great coach for me. I always worked with him on stuff and he would help me out with things. Either defensively or just something to think about with my swing or something. And then my summer ball coach, Andy Emard was a really good coach, he helped me out a ton. And coach Hampton, he was a good coach too, they were co-head coaches, he was a great coach too. That was my high school days but they helped me get to where I could get a chance to play college baseball. Once I got to college, coach Lopez and coach Wasikowski really helped me. Was helped me out every day, helping me in the cage and getting me to work on things, and give me an approach at the plate. If you worked with him he was real open-minded about everything. So, those people helped me out the most playing baseball, they were always there. Even if I still have a question, I can call any one of those guys. I know they’d still be there for you and try to help you out, cause they want to see you succeed as much as anybody.
Petey: You played two years of college baseball at Arizona, where you played first-base for the Wildcats. In college you of course used aluminum bats, are you completely comfortable swinging wood now? Was it tough making the transition to wood?
Cole: I would say no because North Dakota high school baseball is all wood bats. Strictly wood bat. So I had used wood prior and I was a little used to it. And then summer ball, we’d go aluminum. And then college they made that new rule this year, with the bats, so it’s a lot more similar to a wood bat. So it wasn’t a whole lot different, the only thing I noticed was a ball you hit off the end of the bat with aluminum, you wouldn’t break the bat and might find a base hit maybe a little better.
Petey: Maybe not feel it in your hands so much.
Cole: Exactly yeah, and aluminum bats you can still get away with stuff, just not as much as you used to be able to get away with aluminum. They have pop in them, you get it on the barrel it will still go, but you can’t hit it off the end and have it go out anymore.
Petey: What are those new college bats you mentioned?
Cole: The BBCOR’s?
Cole: If you hit a ball perfect on a wood bat, and hit a ball perfect on a BBCOR, I think wood feels better.
Petey: Oh yeah?
Cole: Yeah, I mean you can still get away with hitting the ball off the end a little bit. With a wood bat it will break and be a little flair to short, otherwise with aluminum it will be over the shortstop’s head. It’s hard to say, they definitely made a difference, but are more similar to wood I would say, than the old aluminum bats.
Petey: What if any, are some of the differences between playing baseball at a major college program, and playing professionally in the New York Penn League?
Cole: Well actually the PAC-10 had some great arms. It’s the PAC-12 now, but they had some really good arms, they had a lot of first round picks. You got to see Gerrit Cole, Trevor Bauer, you saw a lot of arms, so you knew if you could match up with those guys, you’d have a good chance of matching up with most guys in the minor leagues. So I didn’t think they were that different. I mean obviously in pro ball you run into some guys who are “on” that day and throw. But ultimately it’s still the same game and it’s still a high level of play. You just got to keep your mind right, be prepared, and play your game. It’s still the same game. I didn’t notice a huge difference though. The New York Penn League’s a good league too, so it was a lot of fun to be able to play in that league and compete with those guys.
Petey: Also, playing at Brooklyn must have been a lot of fun too.
Cole: Oh yeah, that place was awesome. It was a great experience for me. Especially your first year in the minor leagues, your packing in the fans every night, and your in New York. It was the ultimate experience, New York. It was fun, a lot of fun. It’s a great place.
Petey: Unfortunately the field there in Coney Island isn’t really conducive to left-handed power hitters.
Cole: No, not really, no.
Petey: The wind blows in from right and it must be tough to hit there when your game is power driven from the left side.
Cole: Yeah the wind blows in quite a bit. Even in BP you’d notice. You’d get into balls and they wouldn’t even make the track sometimes. It was kinda weird, without a doubt.
Petey: Well all that’s behind you now. Wherever you wind up this season, Savannah or St. Lucie, you won’t have to worry about that wind blowing in.
Cole: Hopefully, no one wants to worry about the wind blowing in too hard.
Petey: That’s right. You had a stellar .997 fielding%, at first base. Are you strictly a first-baseman now, or have the Mets discussed giving you some playing time in the outfield?
Cole: I’ve never really sat down and talked to them where they said hey we’re going to move you to the outfield. But during instructs, I take ground balls at third, and I played shortstop in high school, so I can play there. I played first-base in college cause it was a chance to get in the line-up. I didn’t care whether I was playing first-base, DH, right-field wherever, you know? It didn’t matter to me, I just wanted to play. They put me on first, I wasn’t extremely experienced at the position, I learned it. The Mets had me at first, that’s where I played mostly at Brooklyn. But I could play corner outfield, third-base. I can play anywhere, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.
Petey: Wow you only had one error in 43 games at first, last year at Brooklyn? Pretty solid.
Cole: Yeah, that error that I had? The sun was setting in left center-field and our shortstop got the ball back there, and he threw it, and I completely didn’t even see it. I turned my head, cause I knew it was coming at me, and it hit me right in the shoulder. Another minor league experience that I’ll probably never forget, how weird that thing was. He made a nice play on it too, he threw it and I tracked it for a second, but once I lost it I kinda ducked down so I wouldn’t get hit in the face, and right in the arm.
Petey: Wow that’s almost like losing a ground ball in the sun! Say Cole, I have read the scouting reports on you as a hitter, and watched some video. You have a very promising power stroke from the left side. Good weight transfer, solid hip rotation, good bat speed and a strong line through the hitting zone. Give us a critique on yourself as a hitter.
Cole: I just try to keep my approach simple at the plate. All the weight transfer and everything, is kinda how I grew up. I’m just fine-tuning it with hitting coaches. But for me, I just try to keep it as simple as possible, and just try to find the barrel of the bat. I mean if your barreling the balls up they’re going to find the gaps, and hopefully over the fence once in a while. So I just try and keep my hitting approach simple, and if I need to make an adjustment that day, I’ll just try and figure out what I need to do. But you summed it up pretty good I guess.
Petey: If that’s your natural swing, that you’ve always done since you were a kid, then you’ve got a natural gift. Your lucky that you haven’t had a lot of other people tinkering with it. So what are the Mets working with you on as a hitter these days?
Cole: Anything you know? Everything. Working on pitches you gotta get to, to drive. And balls up, don’t chase pitches, that a pitcher’s making to get you out. You want a ball that you can get hits on. Kinda that stuff, we work on it all, but we’ll work on two-strike approaches a lot. Getting your pitch to drive…..
Petey: Situational stuff.
Cole: Exactly. Pitches you should look for in certain counts, and you know if there’s a runner on second, what you need to do, if you need to move him over, hit the ball over to the right side. Everything. They kinda fine tune you, teach you the game. We’re still adapting and adjusting to pro-ball, we’re learning their system and how to do everything. In instructs that’s what we did a lot. We worked on that stuff everyday. Whether it was defense, or offense, or bunting.
Petey: What would you say is the most important thing you got out of that experience, of going to instructs?
Cole: I don’t think I could pinpoint one thing. I think it would be everything. Being able to work with hitting coaches everyday for an hour-and-a-half, is nothing but great for you because you can figure out everything, and you get to talk to guys that have been there and done it. You get exposure to those guys, and they help you out and they teach you things. Defense-wise they teach you how you even hold the ball when you throw it. It makes a difference. The little things that they can help you out, makes a big difference.
Petey: What was your favorite baseball team growing up?
Cole: My favorite team growing up? I mean, I always liked the Boston Red Sox. The Minnesota Twins were always on TV cause we lived in North Dakota, we didn’t have a pro team.
Petey: Yeah your closer to Minnesota.
Cole: So the Twins were always on TV like every night. So I always watched them and I grew to like watching them. Mauer and Morneau when they were coming up, and Santana, I got to meet him and that was really cool to me cause I always watched him on TV. But yeah, I liked the Red Sox and the Twins growing up.
Petey: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
Cole: I liked watching Manny Ramirez, just cause he was such a pure hitter with such a sound swing. But then all the stuff he did and was into, now it’s like I don’t know if he was on steroids or what-not, but I liked watching him play. I enjoyed it. I like watching a lot of power hitters. I like watching Prince Fielder from the left side, Pujols, I like watching all the big hitters.
Petey: 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 playing like someday in the majors?
Cole: I’ve been asked that question before and I never really had a player I tried to model my game after or anything. But looking at film and talking to coaches, they’ve said that Jason Giambi had a similar swing to me kind of, with the back-swing, and my follow-though and stuff. Similar, not exactly the same but they said it was similar. I looked at my film, and I can see what they’re talking about, but I don’t really know.
Petey: Your swing reminds me a little bit of Will Clark, first-baseman, San Francisco Giants.
Cole: I’ve heard that before too actually.
Petey: Have you? If you get the chance check him out, I’d love to know what you think about that.
Cole: I definitely will yeah. I’ve never had the chance to look at him, I’ve heard it though, but I’m going to do that, I definitely will.
Petey: What are your goals for next season?
Cole: Just have a good year, you know? My goals, what I wanna hit, what I wanna reach for, what I wanna accomplish with the team that I’m playing with. So have a good spring, and make the best opportunity for yourself to advance. Work as hard as you can. As far as numbers and stuff…..
Petey: You let that take care of itself?
Cole: Yeah, I mean do things hard, do things right, things are going to go how they are supposed to you know?
Petey: Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at Brooklyn, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.
Cole: Definitely Danny Muno man, that guy was always on base, always hitting, I hit behind him right when I got to Brooklyn and it seemed like he was always on base.
Petey: That guy was on fire all season, he was.
Cole: He would show up and he was good for two to three hits. It didn’t matter if he hit a ball off the wall or hit a bloop single, or a bunt single, he was just getting on base….
Petey: He was walking like crazy too!
Cole: He’d walk, yeah he really had a great year. It was fun to be a part of it and to see him do what he did. That was awesome.
Cole: Yeah Jack was untouchable. The guy’d come in out of the pen and just mow people over. He was also really fun to watch, I would agree a hundred percent with that. Jack did a heckuva job last year.
Petey: Awesome. Well, to finish up Cole, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie?
Cole: My favorite movie? Man I got a couple of favorite movies. You know I really like Cinderella Man, I like Seabisquit, I like Shooter, I like the Book of Eli.
Petey: Oh yeah!
Cole: That’s a great movie. I like a lot of good movies. I like Gladiator. The Boondock Saints, I like that movie. I couldn’t even name them right now, I’ve got ten or fifteen movies I really like where when your done watching your like, “Wow! That was a good movie!”
Petey: Yeah I refer to those as my “desert island movies.” If I’m going to be stranded on a desert island someplace, I want to have those movies on hand to watch.
Cole: Yeah exactly. The Patriot, I like that movie. Saving Private Ryan. All those war movies are good movies too.
Petey: Oh yeah, the Thin Red Line, ever see that one?
Cole: I haven’t, the Thin Red Line?
Petey: Yeah that’s a good one. I never saw the original, from the 60′s, but there was a remake in 1998 with Sean Penn which is really cool.
Cole: I’m going to have to watch that cause I’ve been looking for some good movies to watch.
Petey: Check it out, I think you’ll like it. I think it’s kinda under-rated.
Cole: Alright, I’m going to remember that. Braveheart I like that movie too….
Petey: That’s a heckuva movie….okay how about music? Have you got a favorite musician? Band?
Cole: Right now music I like, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, I even like Taylor Swift. And then I like Rap, growing up I liked G-Unit and stuff. I have a broad range of music, I can listen to all music, all the time. Mike Stud.
Cole: I listen to Lincoln Park. Pretty much everything. I just appreciate a good song. I don’t have just one group I follow and listen to all the time.
Petey: Very good. How bout favorite food?
Cole: Favorite food, probably steak and lobster.
Petey: Whoa nice choice! A little land and a little sea!
Cole: (laughing) Yeah I’d say steak and lobster.
Petey: I just got hungry….well listen, Cole I’ve kept you long enough, I really want to thank you for your time, it was a lot of fun talking baseball and movies with you! Hopefully our paths will cross sometime this season and I’ll get to meet you in person.
Cole: Yeah definitely man, thank you, I appreciate this a lot and anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask, or give me a call.
Petey: Thanks I appreciate that. We will definitely keep in touch. In the meantime, good luck with spring training, stay healthy, and have a great season!
Cole: Thank you, I appreciate that man. Good talking to you, bye.
Well that was fun, and Cole should just about be getting to St. Lucie to start his 2012 spring training any minute now…. I’ll tell you one thing, I am very excited to see what Frenzel will accomplish this year in A-ball. That smooth, powerful left-handed swing should start to show what he is capable of producing now that he is free of the whipping winds of MCU Park. Remember, even though he only hit one home run last year with Brooklyn, that was one more than Ike Davis hit his first year in pro ball there, in 2008.
I look for Frenzel to open the year in Savannah, of the South Atlantic League, but a hot start for this advanced college hitter could propel him to high-A, St. Lucie by mid-season. Still a couple of years away from Citifield, the idea that he might be ready for a September call-up to the bigs at the end of the 2014 season, would not be out-of-the-question.
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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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