The Mets drafted Johnny Magliozzi in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida. In his final season as a Gator, Johnny sported a team-leading 2.67 ERA in 67.1 innings — mostly in relief. He struck out 57 batters in that span, and notched 12 saves, just one shy of the school record. He was also named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Upon being drafted, Magliozzi signed quickly and was assigned to the Mets short-season affiliate in Brooklyn. He would pitch just 15.1 innings for the Cyclones, but his dominance and swagger earned him the team’s closer role and Mags would save nine games while posting an outstanding ERA of just 1.17. Not a bad way to get your pro career started.
I recently had a chance to interview Johnny for MMO as he gets ready to pitch for his first full season league in 2014. Please enjoy.
Kirk – I would imagine playing minor league baseball in Brooklyn is different than most places you’ve pitched. What was your experience like playing in New York City?
Johnny - Brooklyn was unreal. The fans were awesome, and the stadium was amazing. It was a great place to start my professional career.
Kirk - What do you feel are your strengths, and what will you improve on in 2014?
Johnny - I love competing and this sport gives me the opportunity to go out and give it my best everyday, and that’s what I love about it. I’d like to improve in a number of areas, but right now I’m focusing on getting stronger and throwing all my pitches down in the zone for strikes.
Kirk – Were there any teammates that impressed you with the Cyclones in 2013?
Johnny - Robert Gsellman really impressed me as a pitcher. He’s pretty polished for a high school kid and he knows how to pitch and how to compete. He’s really got some great stuff when he’s out there on the mound.
Kirk – Are there any coaches who really helped your development and transition to professional baseball?
Johnny - The entire coaching staff was great. I learned a lot from all of them. Rich (Donnelly) was awesome and he knows so much about the game of baseball. It was great listening to what he had to say.
Kirk – I know you started a bit in college, if you had your choice would you prefer to start or relieve? Why?
Johnny - I get asked that a lot, but honestly I am here to do whatever the Mets organization asks from me. Where ever the Mets assign me, I am going to go out there and give it my best effort. I will compete for whichever club I am on.
Kirk – You’ve been compared to Kansas City Royals reliever Tim Collins. Are you flattered by that or do you feel scouts use that comparison simply because you’re both relievers who are under six feet?
Johnny - That is a great compliment. Tim is an amazing pitcher and really competes out there. He has had a successful career thus far and has shown a great work ethic. I hope to be as successful as him in the future.
Kirk – I’ve had people tell me you have a “bulldog mentality” on the mound. Is that something you’re aware of? If so, is that something you’ve developed or does it come naturally?
Johnny - I would have to say that it comes from playing hockey my entire life. I took that intensity of playing hockey and bring it into my baseball career. I want to go out on the mound, give it my all and leave everything out there on the field! When I’m on the mound I feel like you need that confidence coupled with a can-do attitude in order to be successful.
Kirk – Who are the players you grew up idolizing or perhaps modeling your game after?
Johnny - I loved watching Pedro Martinez pitch, the guy was unreal. Pedro was like an artist on the mound. He was a fierce competitor and threw a lot of unhittable pitches. I try to model my game after him.
Kirk - What are some things you enjoy doing outside of baseball?
Johnny – I like to play a lot of golf, and also hang out with my friends.
Kirk – What are your goals for 2014?
Johnny - To break camp in a full season squad. I just can’t wait to play baseball again. I would love to pitch in Port St. Lucie, Florida. That’s where I went to college and I still have a lot of friends down here that would love to watch me play!
Kirk - Do you have a message you’d like to pass along to Mets fans?
Johnny - Thanks to everyone for the support and Let’s Go Mets!
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Thanks to Johnny for taking the time to answer a few questions. As you can tell he’s a very focused and motivated young man with a great attitude. He also a great guy and I’m looking forward to following him as he ascends up the ranks on this way to Queens!
(Photo credits: Kenneth Goldberg, New York Mets)