Frank Viola: Sweet Music To A Pitching Prospect’s Ears

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Anthony DiComo of MLB.com confirmed on Wednesday that the Mets have named Frank Viola their new Triple-A pitching coach. Viola will join Wally Backman‘s staff, and look to continue the same success that he has experienced while coaching one year with Brooklyn (A-) and the past two with Savannah (A).

Viola, who played with the Twins for nine seasons, joined the Mets and won 20 games during the 1990 season. He is a former AL Cy Young winner, a three-time All-Star and finished his career at 176-150 with a 3.73 ERA.

There have been a few Mets prospects that I have spoken with that have had nothing but great things to say about Viola. Here are some of the ones I recently interviewed who shared what Frank Viola meant to them:

Paul Sewald I would have to say Frank Viola has made the biggest impact on my game so far in my professional career. He just has so much experience and insight that you just listen when he has advice. He talks a lot about the approach and mental aspects of the game and I certainly think it elevated my performance this summer.

Stefan Sabol – Definitely Frank Viola helped a lot with me mentally on the game,  I’m truly blessed to have had him as my coach for this past season.

Luis Cessa – Frank Viola is a great coach, he help me a lot of times with a lot of different things, all season long.

Steven Matz – Having Frank Viola as my pitching coach this year was a true blessing. Having a 15 or 16 year big league career, he has seen it all. He really knows how to optimize a pitching staff. He knew what each of us were capable of and he didn’t let us do any less. And it showed.

Beck Wheeler –  I gained so much knowledge talking with our pitching coach Frank Viola.  He helped me understand how to pitch more effectively and scenarios that I should be throwing certain pitches. He certainly taught me a lot about myself as a pitcher and a person.  He’s such a genuine coach and really tells you what it is, be it good or bad.  Being in the majors for 16 years, he brought a wealth of knowledge to our pitching staff and he could critique us individually.  He has some great stories from his playing days and always lightens the mood in the clubhouse.

Charley Thurber – Frank Viola helped me transition to the pro game in Brooklyn. He was one of the coaches that believed in me and I was able to succeed. He was someone special in my career because he knew me from the start and didn’t care where I came from. Learning from him and my other coaches was definitely a reason I had the confidence and performance to become an NY Penn League All Star.

Hunter Carnevale – There is so much I can say about Frank Viola. The experience that he brings to a pitching staff is immeasurable. Since he’s basically seen/done it all, you can ask him about anything and he will say something that, if you take it to heart, will definitely help you. I’ve been with Frank for 2 years ( 2011 in Brooklyn and this past year) and the biggest thing he helps you with, is understanding your strengths and how to utilize those strengths against the batter. Once you realize what kind of pitcher you are he preaches to ” trust your stuff,” get ahead of the batter,  and compete.

The 51′s look to continue the success that the organization experienced in 2013 when they went 81-63 and won their division. Viola brings a winning attitude to Las Vegas as his Savannah Sand Gnats won the South Atlantic League Championship last season. It’s a great move by the Mets and a great opportunity for Sweet Music to show what he can do with our prospects at the highest level of the system.

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About David Conde 205 Articles
David was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a lifelong Mets fan.
  • InvalidBeard

    Can a case be made that he’s of better use to the top prospects by staying in AA? Aside from it being considered the biggest jump for a pitcher before the big leagues, the Mets might not want to keep their top arms in Las Vegas for long because of the league and stadium. Right?

  • The-rock-man

    Now do we have someone comparable as a hitting instructor?

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Yes……”LUIS NATERA” who was with the AA team last year

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    A case can be made for AA but a casefor AAA can be made as well as nowadays it is the last step before a pitcher makes the hardest jump of them all…to the bigs.

    Not to mention they are pitching in one of the toughest parks(Vegas) to pitch in and the toughest league(PCL) for a pitcher. That park and league gets in pitchers heads…because the ball travels further when hit there gets out of the infield faster in some parks….

    So who better to have their than a guy that seems to be able to get to these young pitchers from a mental aspect? Because if they make it to AAA that means their pitching mechanics and such are intact.

    These players talk about Viola like he is a “Pitchers Whisperer” lol

  • The-rock-man

    He must be a quiet leader. I go to a lot of B-Mets games and rarely do I hear about him. But you are absolutely right AA team was a great hitting club, and they probably didn’t allow to many fast balls over the plate to go by like the parent club did.

  • joeythew

    I hope this is the first step toward replacing Warthen.

  • BadBadLeroyBrown

    Yeah I couldnt tell you much about his personality but there is another commenter here named “B-METS” who covers the Binghamton Mets for Radio up there and he is fairly close w/ the team, so he could tell you more intricate details about Natera and the team.

    Lol@”Didnt allow too many fastballs like the parent club”

    Yeah apparently we were thinking outside the box last year. Take Fastballs down the pipe and wait for a nice breaking pitch to swing & miss 🙂

  • Sarun923

    Also, Thor, Montero, and possibly deGrom and Walters to name a few will be in Vegas to start the year. Viola’s influence on these young pitchers will be invaluable.

  • B-Met Fan

    In previous seasons, Luis sometimes coached first base for the B-Mets. Last summer, it was always a player not in the starting line-up who shouldered that job. You’re right, he’s pretty low key at B-Met games.

  • Jeff Roland

    since they cant hit and they like viola so much mabey sabol and thurber should try pitching

  • Jeff Roland

    a trained chimp would be better than hudgins. the whole mets hitting philosophy is crap

  • Taskmaster4450

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know about St Claire? Was he let go by the Mets or did he leave on his own? And where did he end up?