Mets Merized Online » interviews http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 08 Dec 2016 03:56:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Terry Collins Made Sure Every NL Team Played Except His Own Mets All Stars http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/terry-collins-made-sure-every-nl-team-played-except-his-own-mets-all-stars.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/terry-collins-made-sure-every-nl-team-played-except-his-own-mets-all-stars.html/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 13:26:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217495 jeurys familia

The one benefit to having your manager managing the All Star Game is knowing that you have someone who will get you into the game at some point so you’ll have a lifelong memory to tell your friends and family about for the rest of your life. That’s usually the case in every All Star Game except when Terry Collins is your manager.

Collins made sure that every National League team had at least one player participate in the game. He went so far as to have Cardinals rookie Aledyms Diaz pinch-hit to strike out in the biggest at-bat in the game. He inserted Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen for one batter in the eighth.

Collins made sure every single representative from the National League made their way into the game. All that is except the defending National League champions, not one Met made their way into the game.

Nobody was more excited, honored and humbled to make the All Starr team than first timer Jeurys Familia, who was told he was going to pitch and was slated to be the closer. Except that moment never came and he never tossed one pitch. Bartolo Colon said he couldn’t believe he made the All Star team and was speechless when he was told he made the squad. “it’s such an honor, especially at my age,” he said through an interpreter. Like Familia, Colon never made it into the game either.

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No big deal, right? Not really… Moments after the last out of the game, the reports started to pour in via social media. 

First, the normally affable and media friendly Jeurys Familia declined to be interviewed as he had nothing to say as he didn’t pitch in the game.  It was the same story for Noah Syndergaard who joined his teammates in San Diego despite the news he wouldn’t pitch. In fact, none of the Mets were willing to give any interviews. and every media outlet were reporting about how upset each and every Mets All Star was:

What was supposed to be a memorable moment and a special lifelong memory for two Mets All Stars who anxiously awaited their chance to play in the Midsummer Classic, concluded on a very sour note it seems. I don’t think this was the way Terry Collins intended to begin the second half.

After the game Collins explained that he was holding Familia back for a save chance that never came, and that he was keeping Colon on ice in case the game went into extra innings.

“We had some health issues and we knew that,” Collins said. “Cespedes would have been a nice piece to have. But the other guys, they were available. We had it set up to when we were going to use them, and we just didn’t get to get there.”

Familia eventually ended his media blackout and reached out to a few Mets beat writers to say, “I’m not disappointed.” He said he understood the rationale and that he was being saved to close. “Maybe next year.”

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Montero Could Be Best No. 5 Pitcher In League http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/montero-could-be-best-no-5-pitcher-in-league.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/03/montero-could-be-best-no-5-pitcher-in-league.html/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 14:13:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=177275 rafael montero Brad Barr-USA TODAY

It wasn’t long ago that we were referring to Rafael Montero as “The Dominator” here at MMO, as his pitching performances often left us with our mouths hanging open, and each performance seemed to get better and better.

Then he was called up to make a few starts with the Mets last year, and all the hype caught up to him. He didn’t look like the same guy that we watched dominate so many minor league games over the past couple of seasons. Many fans may have started to question what the big deal was about this prospect that had heard so much about.

Let’s face it, Montero wouldn’t have been the first prospect to completely over power minor league competition and then not be able to put it together at the big league level. Whether it be something mental, or the pressure of the big leagues, some players just don’t ever live up to the hype.

However, Montero doesn’t seem like that type of guy. If you read or listen to his interviews, he sounds hungry—he sounds confident.

Say what you will about Terry Collins and his management style, but it was a smart move to start Montero against the Yankees. Like Collins alluded to in post-game interviews, he got a chance to see him against a big-time lineup.

“That is the best I’ve seen him,” Collins said after the Mets 7-2 win. “We’ve heard for two years about what a strike thrower he was, and last year when he came up I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but we didn’t see that.”

If you watched that game, you saw some things that made Montero so great in the minor leagues, and yet you also saw some things that got him into trouble when he was called up last year. His change-up was masterful. Watching him throw that pitch and see the left-handed hitters swing through it as it dove down and away from them was a reminiscent of Montero in Binghamton a couple of seasons ago. His curveball was sharp—but it’s Montero’s fastball that will get him into trouble.

Montero isn’t overpowering—generally sitting in the low 90s. Montero’s fastball also tends to be flat—very little movement that comes in at waist height to the hitter. He has to rely on pinpoint control, moving the ball in and out and working the corners in order to be successful. If the fastball catches too much of the plate, the major league hitters will take advantage of it, as we witnessed this past Tuesday when Chase Headley ripped that double in the gap.

We know that Montero has earned a roster spot for 2015. Whether that is in a relief or starter role remains to be seen. Montero truly has the stuff to be one of the best No. 5 starters in the league. It’s pretty impressive when one of the greatest baseball players of all-time says “He’s got a really good arm and he should be a nice asset for that team for a long time.” You may not like Alex Rodriguez, but the guy knows baseball.

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Francesa Says No Mets Guests For WFAN During Spring Training http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/francesa-told-there-will-be-no-mets-guests-for-wfan-during-spring-training.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/francesa-told-there-will-be-no-mets-guests-for-wfan-during-spring-training.html/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 20:26:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174300 francesaMike Francesa has been told by the team that no Mets players will appear on WFAN during Spring Training, and that goes for manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson too.

Wow, I know they air their games on WOR now, but they can’t be that ignorant as to ignore the number one rated sports talk station in the country and in New York. This just sounds bizarre to me and I wonder what the real reason behind putting WFAN on a media blackout is?

I actually loved the annual Mets spring training interviews, caravans, Mets trivia contests, and appearances they would do with Francesa (even though I can’t stand the guy). That will be missed. Plus, the best Sandy Alderson interviews in my opinion, were always the ones he had with Francesa.

So does this mean they are banned from the clubhouse, dugout, and other player areas at Mets camp too? Hmm, that’s weird. I wonder if Ed Coleman even covers the team in PSL this year if he can’t do interviews for WFAN? I love Eddie…

I’m thinking this is going to backfire so badly and only result in more negative attention in the long run. It’s always something. But hey, good news, 15 days until pitchers and catchers report.

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Rafael Montero Determined To Pitch For Mets This Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/rafael-montero-determined-to-pitch-for-mets-this-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/rafael-montero-determined-to-pitch-for-mets-this-season.html/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 13:18:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139778 montero

MLB.com recently conducted an interview in Spanish with Mets pitching prospect Rafael Montero about his future in baseball and his goals for 2014. One of the benefits of having a senior editor like David Conde, who reads and writes Spanish, is that it affords us the opportunity to conduct more interviews with many of our Latino prospects and also being able to translate interviews like this.

Here is an excerpt of the Interview:

MLB.com - You signed a bit late at age 20 for an International prospect, at any point in time were you worried that you weren’t going to get an opportunity?

Montero – If I told you that I worried, It would be a lie, because the truth is I was working hard to reach that goal. It’s one of the the primary goals that I worked hard toward. I always walk with my head held high and I knew it was coming.

MLB.com – Many have spoken about your calmness and your command, how do you explain that?

Montero – When you go into the game, you can’t be nervous, you have to enter calm and relaxed to be able to play the game the way you want.

MLB.com – In 2014 Matt Harvey won’t be on the team, but there are other young arms; Do you want to be in the next phase of young arms that will be rising to the team in Queens?

Montero – If they give me the opportunity to be there, I will be working hard and will put in the necessary work to get there.

MLB.com – What is the primary goal for 2014 for Rafael Montero?

Montero – To reach the Major Leagues, if it’s God’s will.

* * * * * * * *

One of the things I’m looking forward to in 2014 is the major league debut of both Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard. While it’s clear that Montero is more major league ready according to many in the Mets organization, it is also apparent to me that Thor is not that far behind.

I’m just ecstatic as the number of young arms with high upside that you can find speckled throughout each level of the Mets minors. From Kingsport to Las Vegas, there are no less than a dozen great young pitchers all oozing with top and middle of the rotation stuff. It’s an exciting time to be a Met fan.

By the way, I want to thank my senior editor David for translating this interview for our readers to enjoy, and our staff writer Gus for finding the link.

(Photo: MLB.com)

Presented By Diehards

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You Know You Miss Baseball When… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/you-know-you-miss-baseball-when.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/you-know-you-miss-baseball-when.html/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 15:04:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=137133 snow citi

This is a funny time of year. The previous baseball season is now well in the books and fading fast in the rear-view mirror while next season is still too far of for even the earliest of prognostics to hit the scene. It’s a kind of baseball limbo where there is little but a frosty nip in the air and spring seems like an eternity away. I’ve often found myself searching frantically for some connection to our great pastime that may tide me over until the next tidbit of hot stove news reaches me, or until there is some hope of a thaw in the weather. I thought I’d put together a brief list of some of my more desperate attempts to connect to my summer pastime. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

You know you miss baseball when you catch yourself mimicking the crack of a bat and a cheering crowd with a pencil in a dentist’s waiting room.

You know you miss baseball when you find yourself replaying old David Wright interviews counting how many times he says the word “obviously.

You know you miss baseball when you devote an entire day to the 1986 boxed set with your bobblehead collection (and your little toy parachute guy) displayed on your coffee table.

You know you miss baseball when you imagine the weather report as told by Vin Scully,

“Yes folks, this particular blizzard as a young low pressure system attended Texas A & M and was known to be quite the prankster.”

You know you miss baseball when you spend an hour in your attic going through old boxes looking for your Roger Clemens voodoo doll.

You know you miss baseball when you can’t get the SNY opening credits theme out of your head as you shovel the walk …

You know you miss baseball when you find yourself reciting Gary Cohen’s opening monologue out loud in a Denny’s.

You know you miss baseball when your browser history shows 28 compulsive hits on MLBtraderumors.com in the space of a half an hour.

You know you miss baseball when you devote a day to washing your baseball caps in the dishwasher (top rack).

You know you miss baseball when you start to feel the A-Rod / Selig spat was quaint in its own way.

You know you miss baseball if you clear out a 40 yard straight shot from one side of your basement to the other free of furniture or breakables so you can play catch with your kid

You know you miss baseball when 4:30 to 5:00 on weekdays is devoted to arguing various points on the Metsmerized Online comments threads.

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Raissman on Harvey: Stop The Whining And Don’t Shoot The Messenger http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/raissman-on-harvey-stop-the-whining-and-dont-shoot-the-messenger.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/raissman-on-harvey-stop-the-whining-and-dont-shoot-the-messenger.html/#comments Sun, 21 Jul 2013 16:11:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125453 matt harvey kisses

Bob Raissman of the Daily News ripped into Matt Harvey in his Sunday column and asked him to not to blame the media for any of the blow-back from his rendezvous with the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Matt Harvey says he wants to be like Derek Jeter. He’s acting more like Alex Rodriguez , which is the last thing the Mets, desperate for a positive image, need.

Harvey’s nude modeling in ESPN The Magazine, and revealing his wants, needs and personal preferences in a Men’s Journal profile (including his idea of the “model” playboy) bring us back to the best of A-Rod’s self-indulgent, narcissistic moments.

Raissman doesn’t complain about Harvey’s over-exposure in gossip columns, celebrity magazines, and doing nude spreads. But takes issue with Harvey blaming the media for any negative fan reaction and public perception.

This all comes under the categories of superficial and harmless. Still, with Harvey, it’s worth wondering where it’s all going. “Baseball is my job and I love it,” he told Men’s Journal. “But it can’t be the only thing I’ve got going.”

That’s a healthy attitude. But if Harvey is willing to reveal his other side, he’d better be prepared for what comes along with it. If he didn’t know his “revelations” would become fodder for gossip columns, and blaring front-page headlines, either he, or the people handling his PR, are clueless.

Sudden fame, if not handled properly with care, can lead to a fall — especially in New York, especially with an athlete like Harvey, whom a fawning media quickly anointed with superstar status.

The Daily News veteran had sharp criticism for how Harvey took to twitter when concerns were raised during the All Star break. Harvey tweeted: “It really sucks how words get used and completely taken out of context.”

Harvey’s first instinct after the Men’s Journal fallout was to act like a weasel and tweet: “It really sucks how words get used and completely taken out of context.” Sure, kill the messenger. How many times have we seen a professional athlete do that? It’s just double talk for: “I wasn’t taken out of context but I don’t like the way the piece came out.”

Or in Harvey’s case, maybe someone else didn’t like the Men’s Journal profile, like his squeeze Anne Vyalitsyna.

Hey, the MJ piece wasn’t exactly hard-hitting or controversial. It was a vanity fluff job, a lifestyle of the rich and famous kind of thing. Of course Jeter, Harvey’s “role model,” would never speak so freely about his personal life to any reporter. It’s not the Jeterian way.

Who among the Mets hierarchy is going to take the initiative to go to Harvey and tell him to pull back on these media “opportunities”? We’re guessing they won’t want to ruffle his pitching arm. Or interfere with any future whiny tweets.

I think that a lot has been made about Harvey’s new found celebrity status. MetsBlog’s Matt Cerrone said Harvey’s recent interview concerns him and that as soon as he has back-to-back poor starts “everyone is going to point to the models, the late nights, the vodka and waters, the photo shoots and the life he is talking about in these interviews.”

I think that’s ridiculous. There were plenty of Mets who loved the limelight and the nightlife and had no problem balancing their free time with their work time. Two such Met players are now working in the SNY booth; Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.

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We Can Confirm That Las Vegas 51s Have Been Sold To New Ownership Group http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/we-can-confirm-that-las-vegas-51s-have-been-sold-to-new-ownership-group.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/we-can-confirm-that-las-vegas-51s-have-been-sold-to-new-ownership-group.html/#comments Mon, 13 May 2013 18:15:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=118656 las vegas 51'sJust got off the phone with Jim Gemma, the Media Relations Director of the Las Vegas 51s, and can confirm that the Mets Triple-A affiliate has indeed been sold.

The Howard Hughes Corporation and Play Ball Owners Group form the new ownership group and our beat writer is on the way to the park right now where they are expected to make an official announcement.

This is all part of what MMO’s Rob Silverman reported over the winter about the move to a new, $65 million stadium called The Ballpark at Summerlin Center that will be located in the suburbs of Las Vegas.

The Mets have a two-year player development contract with Las Vegas that will remain in place regardless of the change in ownership.

We’ll tell you more after the press conference.

It was so weird because I was in the middle of setting up phone interviews with Collin McHugh and Zack Wheeler and speaking to Jim when it suddenly sounded like Grand Central Station poured into his office.

“Hold on. We’ve just been sold, Joe.”

I was like huh???

Should be a doozy of a game for Rob tonight. :-)

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The Dominator: Rafael Montero Mows Them Down http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/the-dominator-rafael-montero-mows-them-down.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/the-dominator-rafael-montero-mows-them-down.html/#comments Wed, 08 May 2013 17:24:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117863 MMO Contributor Gordon Donovan)

Some people believe that we were put on this planet to serve a purpose. They believe that we were all put here for a reason. Well if that is the case, Rafael Montero was put on this planet for one reason: to pitch.

Montero was going through the Trenton Thunder lineup with surgical precision tonight, prompting this tweet from Trenton’s beat writer and former MMO Alumni Matt Kardos:

Montero was incredible over six innings of work, striking out five consecutive hitters at one point. Montero was painting the corners and was working quickly. He was in a rhythm, and the Trenton hitters were doing very little to break that rhythm. They let Montero work at his own pace, and it was a major advantage tonight. The difference in the major leagues, when Montero gets there, will be that hitters will step out of the box to break his rhythm.

Through his first six innings of work, Montero had thrown 74 pitches, 55 for strikes. He gave up one hit, one walk, while striking out eight. It wasn’t until the seventh inning where Trenton started to get to Montero. Montero started the inning off by giving up a lead off walk, and it seemed to spiral after that. He ended the game giving up three hits and three earned runs.

The most impressive thing about this start by Montero is that it came off the heels of his worst start of the year. As I stated in this morning’s morning report, this game was an important test for Montero. The entire Mets organization was watching to see how he would respond after last week’s start where he gave up ten runs. Paul DePodesta commented recently that Montero needed to face some adversity. This was Montero’s first taste of adversity, and he passed this test with flying colors. How these young pitchers bounce back after bad starts is a big step in their development. Montero showed everyone that he was for real tonight.

Montero is special. Watching him work through those first six innings was a sight to see. I know most people were watching Matt Harvey dominate the Chicago White Sox, but this kid Montero, he’s pretty good too. I try to avoid comparing prospects to established superstars and all-time greats. I know Montero has drawn some comparisons to Pedro Martinez. I have tried like heck not to accept that comparison, but the truth is, I’m starting to see it.

He knows how to pitch, and he knows how to get batters out. The way he works the ball on the corners is completely masterful. The way he gets hitters to chase pitches out of the zone is equally impressive. Montero is scary good right now, and he’s only going to get better.

Here are some quotes from Matt Kardos’ post game interviews after yesterday’s game:

Montero on bouncing back strong after a bad start last week: “I feel happy because I am progressing as a pitcher and that is big for me.”

Montero on if he ran out of gas in 7th: “I haven’t gotten tired so far this year. I just have a pitch count and that’s why they took me out.”

Montero on the go-ahead hit by Slade Heathcott: “I don’t think it was a bad pitch, he just put it in play and you have to give props to the hitter.”

Thunder Manager, Tony Franklin, on Montero: “Montero is very good, the kid has some very good mechanics that allows him to throw the ball well.”

Slade Heathcott on Montero: “He filled the zone up. That’s the toughest thing. I think at one point he had something like 60 strikes and 20 balls. I think he was anywhere from 90-95. Nothing overpowering, his slider was decent but he filled the zone up & worked both sides of the plate.”

I really can’t stress enough how impressive Montero was yesterday. It was easily the best start I saw from a pitcher this year. Most people were busy watching Matt Harvey, and didn’t get to watch Montero, and the box score doesn’t give Montero any justice.

Watching Montero attack the hitters and be able to put the ball where he wanted made it look like he was a man among boys — he just looks like he doesn’t belong (in a good way). He has fluid and smooth mechanics that almost seem to lull the hitters to sleep at the plate. Before they know it, Montero’s 94 mph fastball just went by and nipped the black ever so slightly…Strike Three! This guy is the goods.

 

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets First-Base Prospect Cole Frenzel http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-first-base-prospect-cole-frenzel.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/03/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-first-base-prospect-cole-frenzel.html/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 15:30:53 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=73190

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?

Petey:  Yeah.

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.

Petey:  When I interviewed Danny for MMO, it was way back in October I think, I’m pretty sure he named Jack Leathersich as a guy that he noticed, when I asked him the same question.

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.

Petey:  Nice.

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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Get To Know Mets Pitching Prospect Rob Carson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/get-to-know-mets-pitching-prospect-rob-carson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/get-to-know-mets-pitching-prospect-rob-carson.html/#comments Thu, 16 Feb 2012 01:25:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=71848

I contacted Rob Carson, left-handed pitcher for the New York Mets by phone on Monday, less than a week before he is due to leave for spring training in Port. St. Lucie. This year spring training will be a little different for Carson, because he will be in the big league camp for the first time, a result of being added to the 40-man Major League Roster this winter. Rob and I discussed a myriad of topics, his pitches, his focus heading into the new season, where he sees his career heading and we had a lot of fun just talking baseball. Check out what Rob had to say, I think some of his answers will really surprise you.

Petey:  We are talking today with New York Mets left-handed pitcher Rob Carson. Rob pitched out of the AA Binghamton starting rotation in 2011 and was 2nd on the team in game starts (24), and innings pitched (128.1), and was 4th in K’s with 91 punch-outs. After the regular season ended he pitched in the Arizona Fall League, in relief, and did so well that he was added to the Mets 40-man roster. Hey Robert!

Rob:  What’s up big dog. How you doin’ man?

Petey:  It’s Pete from MetsMerizedOnline.com. How you doin?

Rob:  Good man good, how you doin?

Petey:  Doin excellent!

Rob:  Good man. I actually just came back from working out, and throwing today, man. Got a good workout.

Petey:  How hard are you throwing right now?

Rob:  Like 75-80%, cause you know I’m trying to be spring training ready. I’m not trying to burn it up, just 75-80% to be bullpen ready, and I’m feeling pretty good right now.

Petey:  Did you spend the winter at home in Mississippi?

Rob:  I actually went to the Arizona Fall League, went out there first, and then I came back and have been working out and stuff ever since.

Petey:  Did you get some home cookin?

Rob:  Yeah it’s always good to come home and get some home-cooked meals from your mom, and your grandmom. Cause when your on the road you don’t really get that you know, so it’s pretty good to come home to it.

Petey:  After last season, you pitched in the Arizona Fall League for the Peoria Javelinas, as a relief pitcher. What was that experience like?

Rob:  Man, the experience was really good man, they sent me out there last year also and I started. It was my first year going out there last year and just being around all those guys, all those big prospects, everybody out there’s you know, pretty big prospects from other organizations that get sent out there. And it’s just great competition man, it’s great to spend time, and it’s great baseball. And going this year man, you know you kinda come in, cause this year there’s a lot of new guys, and me and a couple of the guys from last year coming in were kinda like the veterans of it you know, kinda cool. And you know it was just real fun, and different this time cause I went last year as a starter, and this year a reliever you know, they moved me to the bullpen. So it was pretty fun man, it was different, you know, but after my first two times out there, I kinda got into a routine as a reliever cause I was still used to starting. The first time I got called to pitch out of the bullpen, I wasn’t as ready as I wanted. But I still got the job done. Just because of a starter mentality, routine to a reliever. But as the fall league got going, I got into my own routine and it was great, it was fun.

Petey:  What are the differences for you relieving as opposed to starting?

Rob:  As a starter you pretty much, you have to start the game off, you have to set the tempo, you have to go in and have at least two pitches, at least, that you can get over for strikes. You wanna have three, but you need at least two, coming out and starting a game, and you just go with how you feel that day. You want your fastball to be working but some days you don’t have it where you want it to be, so you have to deal with that as a starter, and work with your strengths. And as a reliever, I’m not saying it’s easier than pitching as a starter, but as a reliever you can come in and not have as much pressure depending on the situation when you come in. As a reliever you can come in and can be hard. You know, go right after hitters you know? Just go right after them.

Petey:  You don’t have to save it.

Rob:  Exactly. With your best stuff for that one, or two innings, you can show your pitches and mix it up. But as a starter, you don’t want to show all your pitches that first time through. That’s why you wanna have those two pitches you can throw, a fastball and another pitch, that you can throw for a strike. And that way you can maybe show something else, but not use it where everybody will see it the first time through. So that’s the only difference to me. I made up a routine after that as a reliever, so after that it was real fine.

Petey:  What we were hearing back here in New York when you were out in the AFL, was “Carson’s throwing gas out there, he’s throwing gaaaas!”

Rob:  Hahahahahaha……

Petey:  How hard were you throwing out there in the fall?

Rob:  Actually I was surprised but the guy told me I had touched 100, like two or three times, you know.

Petey:  Seriously?

Rob:  Yeah man, I hit a hundred two or three times and I was sittin’ like 95 to like 98, out of the bullpen.

Petey:  Wow!

Rob:  So, it was kinda amazing to me too, the highest I ever did as a starter was like 97, that was the highest I ever topped out at, and I was consistently like 93 to 95. Then after I went to the bullpen it went up a little bit. So it was kinda fun, you know guys coming up to me, “Hey you just joined the hundred-mile power club.” And me being left-handed, that’s kinda cool man.

Petey:  It is very cool! I mean the only one I can think of throwing that hard from the left side is Aroldis Chapman of the Reds.

Rob:  Exactly. Yeah that’s pretty cool.

Petey:  Well what do you attribute the increase in velocity to? Is it just command? Or is it getting stronger, or something else?

Rob:  Oh man, it’s probably a little bit of both, command and getting stronger. A good long toss program, and stretching good, and then just coming from that starter mentality to a reliever, where you come in as a reliever and your just going. It’s like, “here, here’s my best stuff, see if you can hit this.” And it’s just that adrenaline rush, and going back to the command, just a little bit of both.

Petey:  Very cool. You really opened some eyes out there in the desert, which compelled the Mets to add you to the 40-man roster so you’d be protected in the Rule 5 Draft. Now less than a week away, is your first Big League spring training camp, you must be extremely psyched!

Rob:  Yeah, Pete man, it’s real exciting, you know. It’s very, very exciting for me and also my family, my Mom, and my Pop. My family is so proud of me, when we got the news, I had just gotten back from Arizona. When you’re out there with those guys, it’s not just me it’s a whole bunch of guys from other organizations, they hear, and everybody talks about it but you really can’t focus on it. At the end of the day, we all know this is a business, and you can’t control it. All we can control is between those white lines. And when we get out there, and we’re on the mound, it’s our job to try and perform. That’s the only thing we can control. I mean I told a couple of guys, “Hey I want to be a Met. I want to contribute to that major league team, and hopefully make it with the team that drafted me.” Give the opportunity a chance, and just keep doing what got me moving through the organization, and I just feel like hey, give me the opportunity and I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. And that’s what they did, and I was very happy when they called and told me “Hey, you deserve it and we protected you and put you on the 40-man.” I was real happy man.

Petey:  That is so awesome, and that’s the thing, to just keep doing what you’re doing. So, are you ready to leave for Florida?

Rob:  Man, I’m pumped, I’m psyched, I’m nervous. Not scared, just a little nervous cause you know it’s big league spring training, my first big league spring training, and just going to be around those guys. I’m going to be an open book. My goal and my focus is to really try to break with the team and earn one of those bullpen spots. It’s a dream I’ve always had, is to be a major league pitcher, and it’s right here now. I’m just focused on getting out there and getting the work in and trying to make the club man. And see what happens.

Petey:  Have the Mets told you if they are making you a reliever permanently at this point?

Rob:  As of right now, I think I’m considered a reliever, a bullpen guy. On some websites, and blogs, on a website there was actually a piece on me, along with some other guys, notable candidates for the bullpen of the New York Mets. I was up there with Josh Stinson, and Bobby Parnell, and D.J. Carrasco, and also Pedro Beato, and myself, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be pretty much in the bullpen for now. And who knows? Later on, you know, they know I’ve started for five years, who knows? Maybe they need someone for a Saturday start, they know they got somebody in the bullpen who can eat up some innings. I’m just happy man, Pete. I’m just excited about this year, and it’s a big year for me, and you know gettin my career really started. And whatever gets me there as a starter, a reliever, a long relief guy, whatever. I’m just pumped and ready to go and take this opportunity and run with it.

Petey:  Your bio lists you as 6’3″ and 220. Is that still accurate?

Rob:  Now I’m probably like 6’4″ and probably like 236, 238.

Petey:  Ok, thanks. You told us a little about your fastball, could you detail some of your other pitches for us?

Rob:  I’ve always considered myself as a power left-hander, I’ve had a strong arm since I was young and playing, and people said, “you’ve got a live arm kid.” So, I have a 4-seam fastball, which is like 93 to, well it’s up there now……

Petey:  Yeah….

Rob:  High 90′s, mid-90′s to high 90′s. And also I’ve been throwing a two-seamer the past two seasons, I’ve thrown a two-seamer there. The 2-seamer, I don’t use it much, but I do have it and I use it sometimes, and it’s probably like 86 to probably 90. And then I have a cutter. My 4-seam actually has a natural cut. But now I’ve gotten to where I throw a cutter, and my cutter’s pretty hard probably where my 2-seamer is. And I throw a change-up which I have been working on the past few seasons. Soften it up and it’s coming along, I’ve been working on that.

Petey:  How is that coming along? What sort of movement are you getting with the change?

Rob:  I got the right movement to it, it was just a little hard, you know? Too hard. What we’ve been working with this off-season trying to soften it up. I got out there and found a grip that helped me improve that. And my slider, this off-season I worked on trying to add some depth to it. Get more of that slider “bite” to it, instead of across the strike zone. So I want to get that down and in to a righty, and down away from a lefty. So we’ll work on that and just trying to put my repertoire together. I’ve always had pretty decent fastball command. I’ll just keep working at it and getting better, and get everything tight and ready to go.

Petey:  Let’s go back to when the Mets drafted you out of Hattiesburg High School, MS, in the 14th round of the 2007 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?

Rob:  Oh man, it was kinda crazy. I had a pretty good four years in high school, put up pretty good numbers and stuff. Going into my junior year, we won a state championship. And then people started coming up to me, “Hey Carse, I’ve heard scouts talking about you.” And I started going to showcases and it was like man, you’ll probably get drafted. And I was like, “Yeah that sounds cool.” But I didn’t focus on that, it was like, finish out my high school career, and worry about college. and try to go somewhere for school. Senior year came around and it was time for baseball, and I was talked about a lot then. And I ended up signing with a school. And then the scouts came around and said, “Hey man, there are some teams I think are going to take you in the draft.” I was like, “Yeah that’s kinda crazy, you know.” And when they contacted me heading into draft week, they were telling me, “watch the draft, you’re going to be drafted.” Me and my family were watching the draft at home, and when my name got called and the phone rang, and the Mets had told me that they drafted me in the 14th. I was like screaming and excited man, it was really exciting for my family. I was at a loss for words, and kinda speechless, and it was a great day. It was a really good day.

Petey:  What was the name of the Mets scout who you were dealing with?

Rob:  At that time I was being scouted by Benny Latino, who was working with the Mets at the time. But he’s with the Nationals now.

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?

Rob:  Yeah man, my two high school coaches, my head coach Larry Knight, and my assistant coach Chris Cooley (Hattiesburg High School). And also my Mom and my family, you know, but those two probably within the sport, were the most inspirational in getting me to chase my dream today. I was told they seen something in me, something special. Actually my coach, Larry Knight he used to play professional baseball with the Braves, back when. He was a left-handed pitcher too. He told me I had something special, and they persuaded me to chase my dream, those two guys right there.

Petey:  Since joining the Mets organization, has any pitching coach in the system been particularly helpful to you?

Rob:  Yeah, there’s a few man, I learned some from a lot of my pitching coaches, I’ve had some great pitching coaches in my career so far. Starting when I first came in Robert Ellis, he was my first pitching coach. Then I went to Marc Valdes, Marc has been probably on three teams, in my five years, Savannah, St. Lucie, and this year double-A. Those two guys would be the two that I’ve learned the most from, that stand out so far.

Petey:  You’ve been lucky enough to get to play for Wally Backman as your manager.

Rob:  Yeah man.

Petey:  More than likely he will be managing you at some point, if not all this year as well. Wally is one of the most popular Mets players of all time, and since winning a World Championship in 1986, Wally will always be loved by the fans and considered a Met Hero. What do you think of Wally as a manager?

Rob:  Man he’s awesome man. Wally Backman is the Man.

Petey:   Hahahahaha…..

Rob:  He’s cool, not just because, you know……Wally’s a great manager man. He knows the game. He’s very smart. He’s a manager that will talk to you. If you kinda get down, and you go out there, he’s gonna be like, “Hey kid hey. Don’t show emotion.” He’ll probably talk to you like, “here, this is what you need to do. Try to do this, do this a little better.” You know? He’s one of those guys that’s very talkative, you can go in his office whenever and talk about anything. He’s going to keep it straight with you, keep it real and let you know the truth. He’s not going to tell you a bunch of lies, he’s a guy that’s going to let you know how it is. Cause he’s been there. He’s been in the big leagues. He knows what it takes to get there. And it’s just an honor man, to play under him as a player and him as a manager, and the whole coaching staff this year man, it was great. Wally’s a great manager man. And like you said, if I start at AAA this year, he’d be my manager again, he’ll be the triple-A manager.

Petey:  Yeah, he’ll be at Buffalo this year.

Rob:  Yeah that is going to be pretty cool man.

Petey:  It must make you want to win that Championship in New York even more, when you think about what it means to the city, and baseball history.

Rob:  Yeah it does. The other side is the fans are so funny though. And the fans want to see that from him. Cause he’s kinda famous for that too. Ever since he’s been managing in pro ball, you know, blowing his top with umpires. Last year I remember a couple times him getting thrown out at third and the fans all had their camera phones out, and they actually clapped when he got thrown out, so it was pretty cool playing with Wally this year.

Petey:  Never a dull moment with Wally Backman as your manager.

Rob:  Nope. No there’s not.

Petey:  What was your favorite baseball team growing up?

Rob:  I was an Atlanta Braves fan, you know growing up in Mississippi we didn’t actually have a major league team. And you know Atlanta is pretty close to us so I was always an Atlanta Braves fan. Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, all those guys, Brian Jordan, Javier Lopez, you know those guys, when they played I was always a Braves fan man.

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 pitching like someday in the majors?

Rob:  In the Mets organization a lot of the guys call me lil’ C.C., and I actually love C.C. Sabathia, man, he’s my favorite pitcher in the game right now, and that’s who I look up to. I don’t try to copy him, because he’s great at what he do, but I want to be there one day in his position, in his shoes, as a great left-handed pitcher. I look at a lot of pitchers, C.C. is my favorite, but like David Price, Cole Hammels, Johan Santana, I could name a bunch man. I look at a lot of guys games, C.C. Sabathia is the one I’d have to say I’m closest to, same style pitching-wise.

Petey:  Yeah, I can definitely see some similarities. How bout this? Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play last year at Binghamton, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

Rob:  Josh Satin man. When he got called up, like that’s one of my best friends in the game, we always stay in touch when the baseball season’s over. He’s an amazing guy on and off the field. A great teammate, great person, great ballplayer, smart guy, he knows the game. And he can hit man, and that call-up he got last year, he deserved it. Ever since Josh came to the organization, he’ll just always wow you man. He’s a guy who’s gonna go out and give it his all man, do whatever he can to give the team a chance to win. So he has to be the guy that I choose from the team last year that really impressed me.

Petey:  We got to see a little bit of Josh at Citifield playing for the Mets at the end of the year, that was fun. Hopefully he’ll get called up again this year.

Rob:  Yeah.

Petey:  Maybe you two can be roommates on the road?

Rob:  Yeah, haha, that would be cool man, that’s my boy, that’s my friend.

Petey:  And to finish up Rob, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie?

Rob:  I can’t really pick my favorite movie. I’m more of a action movie, drama, comedy, I really like sci-fi stuff, those would probably be my top four categories.

Petey:  Favorite musician or band?

Rob:  I like all types of music, I like country, I like rock n’ roll, heavy metal, I like all types of stuff. I actually got this new group I’ve been listening to, they’re called Quaker City Nighthawks.

Petey:  No kidding?

Rob:  Yeah man, it’s a pretty cool band man. And then there’s this group with our pitching coach from AA last year Mark Brewer. That’s my dude too. His son’s band, called Taddy Porter man. Taddy Porter and Quaker City Nighthawks are pretty cool bands, man. You should check em out.

Petey:  I will, I definitely will. Last question, what’s your favorite food?

Rob:  Oh man, I like any type of spicy food, seafood.

Petey:  You like Cajun?

Rob:  Cajun yeah, any kind of Cajun style food, I’m with it, you know. But I’d probably have to say like boneless hot wings, that’s probably my favorite.

Petey:  Hey Rob, thank you so much for doing this interview with us!

Rob:  No problem man, thank you for wanting to interview me.

Petey:  It’s my pleasure! As far as this year goes, best of luck. I hope you’ll be pitching at Citi, Mets fans need to get a chance to see you pitch.

Rob:  Yeah that sounds good Pete man, I’ll be talking to you soon.

I was trying to figure out the last time the Mets developed their own lefty-throwing fireballer, to anchor the back of the bullpen. And then it struck me, it’s been about 30 years. Randall K. Myers was the last powerful lefty closer-type the team has developed. Let that sink in. Just kinda swirl it around, and consider that it’s been exactly 27 years since a player like Rob Carson has been on the cusp of breaking into the majors with the New York Mets. I don’t know about you, but I just got goosebumps.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

LGM!

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Get To Know Mets Pitching Prospect Josh Edgin http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/get-to-know-mets-pitching-prospect-josh-edgin.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/get-to-know-mets-pitching-prospect-josh-edgin.html/#comments Sun, 12 Feb 2012 20:21:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=71229

With the news that LHP Josh Edgin has been moved to major league camp and has a chance to make the Opening Day roster, here’s an interview with Josh that we originally posted on February 2, 2012

I caught up to NY Mets minor league pitcher Josh Edgin the other day. Josh has been enjoying the off-season, and just threw his first bullpen, getting his arm ready for spring training. Everyone is aware of the fabulous year that Darin Gorski had at St. Lucie last year. Gorski credited his fastball command, and improved change-up for his success. Well the year Gorski had as a starter, is comparable to what Edgin was able to accomplish as a reliever.

Starting the 2011 season as the closer at Savannah, he threw 31 IP’s over 24 games, giving up only 3 earned runs. That’s right, 3. He went 1-0 with 16 saves and a 0.87 ERA, striking out 41, walking 10, and giving up just 14 hits, 0 HR’s. He was then brought up to St. Lucie where he picked up where he left off in the SAL. In the Florida State League, Advanced-A, Edgin tossed another 35 innings, with a 2-1 record, 11 saves, and a 2.06 ERA. He struck out 35 while walking 13, and giving up 30 hits.

With just 4 weeks remaining before he reports to the spring training complex at Port St. Lucie, it was really nice of Josh to take some time out to answer questions for the readers and staff at MMO. We discussed everything from pitching repertoire, to the mental side of pitching, and staying composed on the mound. From how he spent his off-season, to his goals for the upcoming year. Keep reading to see what Josh had to say:

Petey:  First of all congratulations Josh on a successful second pro season! You threw lights out this past year at Savannah and St. Lucie, helping St. Lucie win the Southern Division of the FSL and pitching in the playoffs. It must have been quite an exciting year for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. Are you back home in South Carolina for the winter? How has your off-season been so far?

Josh:  My offseason has been great but I am currently in my hometown of Three Springs, PA. Im not sure how the Mets got my hometown as Florence, S.C., but I have been trying to change that for some time now haha.

Petey:  Well I don’t want to be giving out faulty information, so I’m glad we got that straightened out! When the Mets drafted you out of Francis Marion University (SC) in the 30th 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?

Josh:  Well I received a text from a friend saying congrats. I had just gotten home from work at the time and it kind of caught me off guard. I was taken in the 50th round by the Braves my junior year so I wasn’t really expecting to get drafted, let alone on the second day. I did not know the Mets were interested other than the questionaire I had filled out from them.

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?

Josh:  I cannot name just one person who I have learned the most from because there are multiple people that have helped me get to where I am but I have to thank my mom and dad for pushing me and never giving up no matter how tough it got. They have been behind me 100% this whole time, so I would give all the praise to them.

Petey:  According to Adam Rubin, your fastball is in the 92-95 mph range, is that about right? I assume that’s a four-seamer you throw? What sort of movement do you get on your fastball? And your slider is supposed to be 82-85 with break down and away from left-handed hitters. You are also working on a change-up and a curveball, how are they coming along? Are you getting comfortable throwing them? What are their speeds and movement like? Would you be able to throw your curve, or change in a big spot? How close are those pitches command-wise, to your two primary pitches? Have you considered learning a two-seamer, or a cutter?

Josh:  Yeah, my fastball is around there with a little bit of run away from a righty. It is a four-seam and I have thrown a two-seam, but I don’t have the control with the 2 like I do with the 4. The change-up is coming along. As for the curve, we’ll just say its “eh.” I am getting comfortable throwing the change-up but I just don’t think I have a curveball arm-slot. The change-up speed is probably around 80-83 mph, not certain but it was around there last year. I am getting comfortable with it and do believe I could throw it in a big spot. I would say I have a little more work to do to get my change-up in the command zone with my 4-seam and slider.

Petey:  What is the one most important thing you learned, or accomplished last year while pitching at Savannah and St. Lucie? Are there any particular coaches who have really helped you since you joined the organization?

Josh:  I learned that you can’t just get on the mound and throw the ball. I have to stay focused and composed, especially since I was being used as the closer. The three pitching coaches I have had in pro ball Phil Regan, Glenn Abbott, and Jonathan Hurst, have all helped me in some way or another. Being around people who have been around the game as much as those guys is just a cool experience in itself.

Petey:  You opened last season at Savannah and pitched really well there in the first half, which earned you a promotion to St. Lucie at mid-season. Your combined numbers for the year were: 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 27 Saves. In 66 IP’s you gave up only 44 hits, 2 HR’s, walked 23 and struck out 76. Do you have any goals for next season? I would think you will open next year at AA, what will be your general approach to attacking hitters this year? What do you think about the jump to AA? Will you have to do anything differently to be successful there?

Josh:  My goals for next season are to pitch to the best of my ability. I know what I have in me, and I expect that out of me every pitch. The general approach will be to go after the hitters. If you try to think or over-analyze, that is when you get hurt as a pitcher. It all starts with strike one. I am excited to make the jump to AA (if all goes well) but I’m not sure if I will have to do anything differently until I get there, whenever that may be. I don’t want to get my hopes up about going up there. Just take it one day at a time.

Petey:  Absolutely. Tom Seaver has always said that about strike one being the most important pitch a pitcher throws. When did your off-season workout schedule begin, and when did you start throwing? Can you describe your regimen? What is your reporting date for spring training?

Josh:  I would say I got back in the weight room around the middle of November, I started tossing around the middle of December, and just threw my first real bullpen last night. I was just long tossing and working on mechanics up until then. My report date to spring training is March 3rd.

Petey:  What do you like to do for fun over the off-season, when you are not working out?

Josh:  I am an avid hunter. I love hunting no matter what it is. I would say that from the end of September till the end of November, if I wasn’t at home, I was most likely in the woods. If I wasn’t hunting I was walking around or something. I just enjoy being in the outdoors.

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?

Josh:  My favorite team growing up was the Baltimore Orioles and favorite player was Cal Ripken Jr. He was the man. Just as hard nosed as you can get on the field, but he played the game right. I can’t really compare myself to anyone right now because I can’t really find anyone like me.

Petey:  Fair Enough. Can you pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play last year at Savannah or St. Lucie, and tell us what it was that made you take notice?

Josh:  Well I may have to go with the obvious here and say Gorski. He was just lights out for the half season that I was there and his demeanor did not change a bit from the beginning till the end.

Petey:  I was able to interview Darin earlier this winter, and I asked him how he stayed so consistent all year, he basically said to “take it one pitch at a time,” he had a truly remarkable season in 2011. To finish up Josh, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Josh:  Movie would have to be Bull Durham. I only listen to country music, mostly, and my favorite food would have to be a good steak and mashed potatoes.

Petey:  Thanks again Josh for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Enjoy the rest of your time off this winter, and we’ll see you on the “bump” at spring training!

Josh:  Thank you for asking me to do this and I hope there is enough to get a good story.

Petey:  There definitely is, thanks again Josh!

I’m really glad I was able to do this interview with Josh, his answers were great, and very informative. He is definitely a player who could move quickly through the upper levels of the system. It wouldn’t be out-of-the question, if he has another terrific year like he did last season, for him to get to the bigs by the end of this year. If not, he should definitely factor into the conversation, by this time next year. It would very much depend on the development of that new change-up, which he was good enough to describe for us in detail. He already has excellent command of two plus pitches, when the change catches up, he will be dominant from out of the pen. A hard throwing lefty, with command on both sides of the plate, in the Met bullpen at Citifield? Might be nice, might be very nice. Stay tuned.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Pitching Prospect Logan Verrett http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-pitching-prospect-logan-verrett.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-pitching-prospect-logan-verrett.html/#comments Fri, 10 Feb 2012 17:45:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=71676

I got in touch with NY Mets 2011 3rd round draft choice Logan Verrett the other day. Verrett a 6’3″ right-hander, is in his final off-season preparations before heading out to spring training at Port St. Lucie in less than two weeks. Logan was nice enough to fill us in on his feelings on being drafted by the Mets, his record-setting college career, his pitching arsenal, and his expectations for his first professional season, which is now right around the corner. Take a look inside to see what else Logan had to say:

Petey:  First of all Logan, congratulations on a big year in 2011. Being the 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft by the Mets, and then signing your first professional contract in the 11th hour before the deadline, must have been quite a thrill! Thank you so much for sharing a little of your time. The readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com will really enjoy reading about you, and getting to know a little bit about one of our newest Met pitching prospects! When the Mets drafted you out of Baylor University last June, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you have any idea that the Mets were interested in drafting you, or which round(s) of the draft you might be taken in?

Logan:  On the second day of the draft me, my parents, and my girlfriend were all gathered around the computer watching the draft online. It seemed like forever that we were sitting there when we finally heard my name called. It was an overwhelming feeling of relief and excitement at the same time. I knew the Mets were interested because I had met with the area scout a couple of times and they had called the night before they drafted me.

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?

Logan:  There are so many people that I owe for pushing me to reach my dream that I don’t even know where to begin. My parents are a major reason that I am a professional baseball player today, they are the ones that dragged me around every weekend from tournament to tournament. My brother, Jared, also taught me a lot about the game. He is 3 years older than me so he pretty much paved the path and he helped me learn from his experiences.

Petey:  While pitching at Baylor, you set Big 12 Conference records for a single season in K/BB ratio (4.14), and BB/9 (2.3). In addition, you set the career conference record for K/BB ratio (3.83). What were some of the most important things you learned from your experience at college and pitching college ball?

Logan:  One of the most important things that I learned in college which attributed to the records I set was simply that it’s not all about velocity. You have to be able to pitch not just throw. Anybody can square up 96 mph if you leave it down the middle of the plate, but if you can turn that into 92 mph on the corners and at the hitters knees then you are going to be very successful.

Petey:  What was your biggest moment on the field in college?

Logan:  I think that one of the biggest moments I had in college was my sophomore year when I pitched a complete game against Texas A&M, it was a big game not only because we beat one of our biggest rivals but because I set the record for most strikeouts at Baylor Ballpark that game.

Petey:  We have heard that you possess simple, repeatable mechanics and good command of three quality pitches. But for those of us that have never seen you pitch, could you tell us a little more about your arsenal? What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and how you set up hitters? Are you working on any new pitches moving forward?

Logan:  As a pitcher I like to keep things as simple as possible, I don’t want to “trick” a hitter. I think when you start thinking that you have to “trick” a hitter then that is when you can get in trouble. I set guys up with my fastball and keep them off balance with either my curveball, slider, or changeup. My fastball and slider are pitches that I have tremendous confidence in and I think they are very hard to hit. To complete my arsenal I have a pretty good curveball and an average changeup. I have been really working hard this offseason on developing my changeup to become a much better pitch for me.

Petey:  That will certainly serve you well when you pitch in the Florida State League, and the Eastern League. What kind of things did you do to stay in shape over the winter? Can you describe your workout regimen? Did the Mets give you anything specific to work on?

Logan:  This offseason I have been working hard to get stronger and improve as a pitcher. I have a strength coach in Houston that I meet with once a week to go through a workout and to get my workouts for the week. We have put a focus on leg strength as well as flexibility and hip mobility.

Petey:  You have been referred to as “durable” on the mound. Do you have a preference to starting or relieving, or is it something where you don’t care as long as the opportunity to pitch is there?

Logan:  I prefer starting, that is what my role has been ever since high school and it’s a role that I really have embraced, and love looking forward to going at least six or seven innings for my team.

Petey:  Tell us what is the biggest obstacle for you in getting to the major leagues? Is there one thing in particular, that you need to work on and improve to be able able to succeed at the highest level?

Logan:  I think in order for me to reach my ultimate goal of pitching in the major leagues I have to be consistent week in and week out. I’m confident that I have the tools and the right people surrounding me to get me there, it is just going to take consistent outings every time I take the mound.

Petey:  What are your goals for next season? Is there a particular club you hope to make out of spring training? Have the Mets made any indication of what they are planning for you next season, or are those things to be decided in spring training?

Logan:  My expectations for this upcoming season are to lead whatever club I am with to a championship. I am truly blessed to have this opportunity and I am going to bring a winning attitude to the park every day with me no matter what club I am with.

Petey:  What was your favorite baseball team growing up? Your favorite player? Is there a major leaguer, either past or present, who you would say is similar in pitching style to you?

Logan:  Growing up so close to Houston naturally I was a bit of an Astros fan, nothing over the top though. It is so hard to be an Astros fan anyways. I always enjoyed watching Roy Oswalt pitch, and also watching Craig Biggio when he was playing second base for Oswalt.

Petey:  Biggio was an awesome player. I think every Mets fan who saw him play wished that he was on our team. I mean he was as hard-nosed and competitive a player as there ever was. And a NL All-Star at catcher, centerfield, and second base? Who does that? That’s just crazy. The guy has to make the HOF. Anyway, to finish up Logan, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Logan:  My favorite types of movies are comedies first, and then I enjoy movies that make you think like Inception and Shutter Island, stuff like that. I love listening to Texas Country, which I know most people probably aren’t familiar with unless they are from Texas. But most Texas Country has a little Southern Rock feel to it, and some of my favorite artists are Randy Rogers Band, Robert Earl Keen, and Ryan Bingham. My favorite food is a little weird, but BBQ crabs are definitely my favorite food, it’s a lot of work to eat them but it is well worth it.

Petey:  Thanks again Logan, it was a lot of fun doing this interview with you. Have a great spring training, and 2012 season! All of us at MMO and Mets fans everywhere are looking forward to seeing you on the “bump” real soon.

Although the big league starting pitching will remain relatively untouched, and will have to do it’s improving from within this year, the true influx of talent into the organization will be seen in the starting rotations at Savannah and St. Lucie. Some recently drafted pitchers that will make their organizational debuts as starters this season are, in addition to Verrett, Cory Mazzoni, Tyler Pill, Jack Leathersich, Alex Panteliodis and Michael Fulmer. It should be an exciting year to follow these young pitching prospects, as there is plenty of talent here. Another strong pitching draft for the team in 2012, combined with a little luck and development from these guys, and this organizations farm system may start to move up the rankings soon, based on the strength of it’s pitching.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

LGM!

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Get To Know Mets Shortstop Prospect Phillip Evans (Exclusive Interview) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/get-to-know-mets-shortstop-prospect-phillip-evans-exclusive-interview.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/02/get-to-know-mets-shortstop-prospect-phillip-evans-exclusive-interview.html/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2012 03:40:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=71265

I was able to get in a quick Q&A with NY Mets shortstop prospect Phillip Evans the other day, just weeks before he has to get ready to head for Port St. Lucie for the start of Spring Training. The Mets got a steal when they plucked Evans in the 15th round of last years draft. Other teams had been scared off due to a commitment by Evans to attend San Diego State, but just hours before the deadline to sign players, the Mets were able to come to terms with him on a professional contract. And boy are they glad they did. Evans at age 19, plays much older. He is far advanced for his age, as a hitter and an infielder, and is a complete player in all facets of the game. I asked Phillip about his hitting, his fielding, his base-running, and just about everything else too. Look inside to see what he had to say:

Petey:  First of all congratulations Phillip on a terrific year! From being the 15th round pick in the draft by the Mets, to signing a pro contract and making your professional debut playing at three different levels of the Mets farm system. You got to play in front of the awesome fans in Brooklyn, and helped them get to the championship round of 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. Are you having a nice off-season? How are you doing these days?

Phillip:  Thanks Pete! It was definitely a very exciting year for me, from playing my final high school season at La Costa Canyon in front of my friends and family to playing in Brooklyn and being supported by the best fans you can get in minor league baseball. All the levels that I played in from the GCL to Kingsport, then Brooklyn were all great experiences for me within the first few weeks of my career.

Petey:  Were you born to play baseball? When did you first start to think about playing it for a living?

Phillip:  Baseball is not just a job to me, its a kids game so in my mind I try to keep things simple and have as much fun as possible between those two white lines. I was most definitely born to play baseball! I’ve been playing since I was 4 years and my love for the game is through the roof and it will stay that way for the rest of my life. I have always dreamed about playing the game I love for a living.

Petey:  That’s awesome. 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?

Phillip:  My dad has always been motivating me through my career so far. I have learned a lot from all of coaches from travel ball when I was younger, to my high school coach Justin Machado who taught me a lot about controlling my emotions and how to carry myself on and off the field.

Petey:  When the Mets drafted you in the 15th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft, out of La Costa Canyon High School, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like? Did you know the Mets were interested in drafting you? You were projected to be a very early round pick, but fell to the 15th due to your strong commitment to attend San Diego State. What round(s) were you thinking you might be taken in the draft?

Phillip:  I was very surprised and happy that the Mets drafted me, the draft works in some funky ways so I had no idea what to expect going into it but the Mets organization is a great fit for me.

Petey:  Your right about the draft, it’s impossible to figure it out, but we Mets fans are happy they drafted you too, and very happy you decided to sign. At the plate, you have a very solid swing. On your stride you exhibit good balance, and weight shift, with excellent hip rotation. Your swing is short and compact, and the bat cuts very quickly through the hitting zone because of your quick hands and wrists. What is your strategy for approaching each at bat?

Phillip:  I step up to the plate with confidence and look for a pitch that is most likely going to be thrown in a certain count or situation and drive it wherever it is pitched.

Petey:  You are usually a top of the order guy, do you see yourself as a stolen base threat?

Phillip:  Yes I have a quick first step and get going on the base paths pretty well, I have been keeping myself in great shape this winter and will be stealing bags this season.

Petey:  Wow that’s great to hear! You have played mostly shortstop so far but can also handle second base. Do you have a preference as to which position you like best? Have the Mets made any indications to you regarding where they plan to play you next year?

Phillip:  Being on a baseball field is my life and brings me tremendous joy I love to play shortstop but I would play any position just to be out on that field everyday.

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 playing like someday in the majors?

Phillip:  I am from the Bay Area so I will always be a San Francisco Giants fan, my favorite players growing up and still to this day are Jimmy Rollins & Jose Reyes.

Petey:  What are your goals for next season? And how do you prepare over the winter, can you describe your workout regimen? What do you like to do for recreation?

Phillip:  My goals for next season is to do everything possible to help my team win ball games. I have been working very hard this off-season in the weight room and on the diamond, but in my free time I love being at the beach and in the ocean, just laying in the sand and playing beach volleyball makes me happy. Living five minutes from the beach definitely helps me out with those things I love to do away from the field, haha.

Petey:  Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at any of the three stops you made after signing, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

Phillip:  Danny Muno really impressed me this season from what I saw him do everyday he showed up to the yard, Going through the different levels with him around will be fun since he is a great team guy knows how to handle himself on and off the field.

Petey:  I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Danny in the fall, and he is quite a competitor. To finish up Phillip, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Phillip:  My favorite Movie has to be The Sandlot, I love all kinds off music, pretty much every kind of genre, its nice to mix up the music selection sometimes, I love sushi, seafood, and steak!

Petey:  Haha! I love The Sandlot too! I just interviewed one of your teammates from the end of last season, Travis Taijeron, and he also picked The Sandlot. Thanks again Phillip for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a very pleasant rest of the off-season and we’ll see you at spring training, which is only a month away!

Phillip:  It was my pleasure to answer these questions, anytime just throw some questions my way, and I’ll get on them right away, thanks for having me Pete! Have a good few weeks and I’ll see you at spring training!

Petey:  My pleasure Phillip. We will definitely be in touch, thank you!

What can you say? Evans is a baseball player. He is not afraid to get his uniform dirty. He knows how to bunt. He drives balls in the gap. He’ll take it the opposite way. He can actually field, he’s a middle infielder and will stay there, he won’t be spending the next four years searching for a position to play, like so many Mets “prospects” of the past. He’s a hard-nosed player, a good base-runner, and will even steal you a couple of bags. He’s smart, confident, eager to learn, and I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch for him to start out this year in the long-season South Atlantic League as a member of the Savannah Sand Gnats everyday infield. We’ll check back with Phillip during spring training and see how everything’s going.

Scene from The Sandlot >click here<

Another scene >click here<

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Get To Know Mets Prospect Travis Taijeron http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/get-to-know-mets-prospect-travis-taijeron.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/get-to-know-mets-prospect-travis-taijeron.html/#comments Sun, 29 Jan 2012 03:09:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=70304

I got in touch with NY Mets outfield prospect Travis Taijeron this week and he was nice enough to agree to an interview with us here on MetsMerizedOnline.com. The righty-hitting Taijeron played CF, and LF last year for the Brooklyn Cyclones after being drafted by the Mets in the 2011 Amateur Draft. It was an excellent pro debut for Taijeron, who not only played solid defense, while leading the team in 3B’s, HR’s, RBI’s, and SLG%, he also came through many times as a clutch-hitter, and had the respect of all his teammates. Let’s check out what Travis had to say as he sheds some light on where he feels his game is now, and where he sees it going.

Petey:  First of all congratulations Travis on a terrific year! From being the 18th round pick by the NY Mets in this past year’s draft, to making your professional debut playing in front of the awesome fans in Brooklyn, to helping the Cyclones get into the New York Penn League Playoffs, and very nearly winning the whole thing! It must have been a very exciting year for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. How are things going in sunny California? When the Mets drafted you in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft, out of Cal Poly Pomona, 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?

Travis:  When I was drafted it was really exciting. It just so happened that I was working out with some of my teammates from Cal Poly when I got the call. I had somewhat of a feel that the Mets were interested in me since they had invited me to a few pre-draft workouts. During the draft I really had no idea what round I was going to be drafted in just because it was my senior season.

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?

Travis:  My whole family and friends have always been there for me but most of all my dad has been there driving me and inspiring me to get better. Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to play professional baseball. I loved the sport and I had a talk with my dad when I was going into my freshman year of high school. I told him that I wanted to do whatever it takes to make it, and that I wanted his help no matter what to push me through the hard times. He has always been there to push me to the next level.

Petey:  It must have been an unbelievable experience to break into professional baseball in front of those fabulous Cyclones fans! What was that experience like to play baseball at Coney Island, for the Brooklyn Cyclones, getting to play in front of the home-town folks? Seeing as you’re from California, did it take time for you to get acclimated to living and playing ball in NY?

Travis:  Playing in Brooklyn was such a great time! I have never experienced anything like that. I have never played baseball in front of so many fans before. It really made it so much fun to play. The city life was really different, but baseball is still the same sport no matter where you go in the United States.

Petey:  You made the NYPL All-Star team last season, and you were named the NYPL Player of the Week at the beginning of August, two very nice accomplishments as a reward for a job well done. What’s the biggest thing you learned from the experience of playing for the Cyclones last year?

Travis:  I learned most last year how to control myself in a professional environment. In college everything is controlled. I had to adjust to baseball as a career that I want to excel at and set my own goals for what I want to accomplish.

Petey:  You put together a very productive and consistent 2011 season at the plate. In 194 AB’s, hitting from the right side, you put up a slash-line of .299/.387/.557, with 13 2B’s, 5 3B’s, 9 HR’s, and 44 RBI’s. Nice work Travis! At first glance the only issue I see so far, is a fairly high strikeout rate, as your K/BB ratio was 64/22. If you could, give us a scouting report on yourself as a hitter. What are your strengths? In addition to cutting down on the K’s, what else do you need to work on as a hitter, to take your game to the next level?

Travis:  I understand that I need to cut down on my strikeouts and I have been working on that most this of season. I personally I think that I am a power hitter and I like it when there are people on base. I try my hardest when someone is on base to score them no matter what it takes. I enjoy the pressure especially with runners in scoring position. This off season I have been working most on my strike zone judgment, I believe I was swinging at a lot of bad pitches that I should not have been swinging at and getting myself out. This next year I want to make the pitcher really earn it to get me out.

Petey:  If last year was a sprint, this year will be a marathon, as you will find yourself in a full-season league for the first time. Since you will be playing regularly this year either at Savannah or St. Lucie, in a league where you will have approximately 140 games on the schedule, are you preparing any differently for the long season ahead? Can you describe your workout regimen?

Travis:  I understand that I have to be more prepared this next season so I have been working really hard with my trainer, Carl Thiessen in Imperial Beach and on my own, to make sure that I come into this next season in top shape. The weather has been great out here so we do a lot at the beach in the sand.

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 playing like someday in the majors?

Travis:  Well, being from San Diego I have been a Padres fan. My favorite team was the 1998 Padre team. One player I have always liked is Josh Hamilton, he has a great swing and a lot of power. But I like so many different players for different reasons, so it is hard for me to narrow anything down.

Petey:  What do you like to do for recreation, when your not working out or playing baseball?

Travis:  Most of my days are working out and all that, but when I have time I like to go to the desert and off-road my Ranger. I also own a few radio-controlled trucks that I race, so I do that as well.

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.

Travis:  We had so many good players last year, but Danny Muno was one guy that has a really nice swing and can just smack the ball around the field. Also a pitcher that really impressed me was Jack Leathersich. That kid just did really well every time he stepped on the mound. But really the whole team was great, we had so many good players.

Petey:  Danny Muno was kind enough to do an interview with me earlier in the off-season, he’s a terrific player and a very nice guy. And yes, “The Rocket,” Jack Leathersich is an intriguing player as well. To finish up Travis, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Travis:  My favorite movie growing up was The Sandlot. I don’t really have too much of a favorite band, but I like country and rock music. I really like any Italian food.

Petey:  Haha! I love The Sandlot! Especially the scene where the kids all have chaws of chewing tobacco, and they go on that spin-ride at the carnival, hilarious! Hey thanks again Travis for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a great rest of the winter, enjoy your time off, and we’ll see you in ST!

Well I’ll say two things for Travis, he’s a very promising and toolsy outfielder, AND he’s got excellent taste in movies! I expect him to be the starting left-fielder in Savannah next year, and it will be great to see how he does in a long-season league. He should be an important part of a very talented Sand Gnat team that will once again, contend for an SAL Championship.

Classic >scene< from The Sandlot, and of course, who can forget this other classic >scene<

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Prospect Joe Bonfe http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-prospect-joe-bonfe.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-prospect-joe-bonfe.html/#comments Thu, 26 Jan 2012 20:05:44 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=70560

I was able to do a Q&A with NY Mets minor league prospect Joe Bonfe the other day. Entering his 4th season with the Mets, the 24-year-old Bonfe looks to shed the label of super-utility guy, and take on the role of starting player for an entire season. Joe did a great job in the interview and his questions are very interesting. Keep reading to find out how Joe continues to improve his game, and what he sees himself accomplishing this year:

Petey:  Today we are chatting with Joe Bonfe, Mets minor league jack-of-all-trades, who played at Savannah last year. Joe plays first-base, third-base, and the corner outfield spots for the Mets, and if everything goes according to plan, he should open up 2012 in the Florida State League as a member of the St. Lucie Mets. Hi Joe, thanks for taking a little time out to answer some questions for all of us at MetsMerizedOnline.com. You are from Minnesota, is that where you’ve spent this off-season? Did you guys even have any snow this winter?

Joe:  I am spending my off-season in Minnesota and it’s been a warm winter thus far, we didn’t even have snow on Christmas.

Petey:  When the Mets drafted you in the 21st round of the 2009 MLB Player Draft, out of Sierra College, 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?

Joe:  I first heard I was drafted when I was listening to the Draft Tracker the second day of the draft, I was super excited because it has always been a dream of mine to play in the Major Leagues and hearing my name brought me one step closer to that dream. The Mets followed me through fall and spring ball the year I was at Sierra College so I knew I had the possibility of getting drafted by them. I didn’t have any rounds in mind I just wanted to let scouts know I wanted to play at the next level and be given the opportunity.

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?

Joe:  My parents have been my biggest support through my baseball career and they have always been there for me and helped fine tune me into the player I am today. They taught me to be a hard worker, play hard from start to finish, and play the game the right way.

Petey:  You were log-jammed at the infield corners when the 2011 season began, but spent some time working in the outfield corner spots and held up pretty well. Was it your idea to seek more playing time by working in the outfield, or one of your coaches? Although a natural third baseman, after playing both LF and RF for the Gnats, did you become as comfortable in the outfield as you are in the infield? There has been speculation about the Mets perhaps moving both Aderlin Rodriguez, and Jefry Marte from 3B. That could leave a big hole at the position at St. Lucie going into this season. Have the Mets indicated whether they see you filling that role for them heading into next year, or is it a matter of seeing where the cards fall in ST?

Joe:  I have always wanted to be a versatile player my whole career because I know in this game the more positions you play the more opportunities will come your way, I really wanted to be able to help the team and be an everyday player so the coaches and I decided it would benefit me more to play more positions and it worked out great. My first game I played outfield I was a little nervous/excited but I knew that with the hard work and practice I put in, everything would take care of itself. When I caught the first fly ball I felt instant comfort and knew I could help the team in the outfield. I am heading into spring training trying to prove myself that I can be an everyday player at any of the corner positions and would be willing to play other positions as well.

Petey:  Between you and me Joe, I’d hold off on telling them you’d be willing to catch, if you know what I mean. How about a scouting report on Joe Bonfe as a hitter? What are your strengths and what do you need to work on? You are a big guy, 6’4″, 220 lbs., and swing right-handed, do you see yourself developing into a HR hitter some day? I noticed you hit about .50 points higher with runners in scoring position last year, then with the bases empty, and then you hit very well in the post-season. Do you think of yourself as a ‘big game’ guy, and a clutch performer?

Joe:  I am always tuning up my game, but I would have to say I am working on my bat speed, defense, loading earlier and driving the ball with backspin to all parts of the field, with that said I believe I can become a HR hitter. As always I just try and help my team in any way possible to win the game and I like getting the opportunity to be in those situations. I know in those situations the pitcher is the one who is in trouble so I don’t put any pressure on myself, I just treat it like every other at bat and let the pitcher make the mistake.

Petey:  Tell us a little about your speed and base-running. You are fast enough to hold down a corner outfield spot, which opens many opportunities for playing time moving forward. Plus you have interesting stolen base totals from the last two seasons. In 2010 while at Brooklyn, you stole 8 bases while getting caught twice, then last year in Savannah, you stole 8 more bases and didn’t get caught at all. Very good Joseph! It seems like you have pretty good instincts on the base-paths, something Mets fans appreciate, do you work hard on your base-running?

Joe:  A lot of it is instincts and preparation before the pitch, because every base counts and the closer to home plate the better situation for the team, I am always looking for that extra base and I try to take advantage of a lazy player. I want to keep the other team on their toes and put the pressure on them. All of my coaches from little league on up have always stressed to run hard and always look for the extra base and I always stress being an aggressive, smart runner.

Petey:  Coming from Minnesota, you must be used to playing in cold weather. What was it like growing up there as a baseball player? Did you play other sports? When did you decide it was baseball that you would pursue?

Joe:  Like you said cold weather for me is freezing for most people. I like the cool games and almost prefer them over a hot day. Our season for baseball didn’t start till April, so you can imagine our season was half as long in the spring. I played hockey and football in high school and was a State Champion in hockey; I played on the same line as Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers. I chose baseball because of the love for the game and I have always had fun no matter if it was practice or a game. I enjoy being around the sport.

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 playing like someday in the majors?

Joe:  My favorite team growing up was the Minnesota Twins. Kirby Pucket and Joe Mauer have been my favorite players and I think I have similar hitting style as Joe Mauer. He was four years ahead of me at my high school and I have watched his career develop and since he had so much success I tried to imitate his style of play.

Petey:  A good guy to emulate for sure. What are your goals for next season? And how do you prepare over the winter, can you describe your workout regimen? What do you like to do for recreation?

Joe:  My goals this year is to be in Binghamton by the end of the year. Over the winter I work out to improve my strength, speed quickness, and then work on my hitting and fielding as well. I really want to put my name on the board this year by showing them I can play at any level.

Petey:  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.

Joe:  Taylor Whitenton, he was one of our many solid pitchers we had on the team, his work ethic and preparation for each game he pitched showed why he was one of the best in the league. When he was pitching we knew he was going to give our team a great chance to win.

Petey:  To finish up Joe, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Joe:  One of my favorite movies would have to be The Count of Monte Cristo. Don’t have a favorite musician/band but I like all varieties. My favorite food by far is a Chipotle Burrito

Petey:  Hmmmm……I think I’m in the mood for Mexican food tonite….anyway thanks Joe! It was really fun doing this interview with you. Good luck with the 2012 season! Remember, Binghamton is lovely in August! We’ll see you at ST.

Joe has that competitive drive you love to see in your players. He may not do anything fantastic, but he does a lot of things well. A good start at St. Lucie and he could very well get his wish, a mid-season call-up to AA Bingo. That would put Bonfe on-track for a possible big-league debut sometime in 2013. Bonfe is doing a good job of rounding out his game, playing smart, and making himself valuable to his team. All traits that will serve him well as he follows the Dream.

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Minor League LHP Zach Dotson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-minor-league-lhp-zach-dotson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-minor-league-lhp-zach-dotson.html/#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2012 17:00:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=70180

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?

Zach:  Favorite movie: Miracle. Favorite musician: Brantley Gilbert. Favorite Food: Steak.

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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Mets Prospect Steve Matz Is Throwing In St. Lucie, Getting Ready For Spring Training http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mets-prospect-steve-matz-is-throwing-in-st-lucie-getting-ready-for-spring-training.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mets-prospect-steve-matz-is-throwing-in-st-lucie-getting-ready-for-spring-training.html/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:19:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=69651

I was able to catch up with Mets minor league pitcher, lefty Steve Matz the other day, and I asked him how his arm was feeling with spring training right around the corner. Steve has already reported to the complex at St. Lucie to begin his throwing program in warm weather. He went under the knife, with TJS on his pitching elbow in 2010, and had to be shut down when he tried to pitch last season and the elbow flared up on him. He has been waiting a long time to make his Mets minor league debut, and working hard in his rehab, and it looks like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep reading to get the latest from Steve on where he is at, in his long road back.

Petey:  We are chatting today with NY Mets 2009 Top Draft Pick, Steve Matz. Steve is a local product from East Setauket, NY, who is looking forward to making his professional debut this season. Hi Steve how are you doing? Thanks so much for taking time to answer a few questions for the readers at MetsMerizedOnline.com. When the Mets drafted you out of Ward Melville High School, in the 2nd 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?

Steve:  Well, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to get drafted on the first day, but you could never be too sure because anything could happen on draft day. I was sitting at home with my parents and first heard about it by watching it on the computer. I knew the Mets were interested but I never got a call before their pick, so I figured I wasn’t going to get picked. So it was definitely a surprise when I heard John Franco call my name. I was told that most teams were saying 2nd round for me.

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?

Steve:  One great thing about baseball is that I have met many good people playing this game, so there are a bunch of people that have helped me and inspired me. My parents especially have been a great influence on me, stressing to keep working hard and staying focused. My high school coach Lou Petrucci has really helped me throughout high school. He’s a guy who just truly loves the game, and spent hours upon hours indoors, between 6am practices before school started, or weekends, anytime I needed him he was there.

Petey:  In your first two seasons since being drafted, you have been unable to take the field due to injury. First TJS on your pitching elbow in 2010, then a setback in your rehab last season that prevented you from pitching at all in 2011. The big question is: how Is your arm now? With spring training just a little over a month away, are you on schedule to be able to pitch normally from the get-go? And with no limitations? Would you say that your velocity has returned?

Steve:  Yes it’s been a long road back. It’s been feeling good, and I’m going to continue to do everything I can to keep it healthy. God willing I’ll be ready to go come spring. My velocity was always something I worried about coming back from this surgery, but when I had a little taste of the mound before the set-back last season, my velocity was there.

Petey:  Considering you haven’t pitched in awhile, what would you say are reasonable goals for you to have for this season?

Steve:  Reasonable goals for me I would say, to come out of spring training and make a team. Then if I can make a team, try to stay healthy for the whole year.

Petey:  The existing scouting reports on your pitches are rather dated. Before your injury it was: fastball 88-92 mph with natural tailing action, curveball that lacked consistency, and a change-up that was a work-in-progress. If you could Steve, update us a little about your arsenal.

Steve:  I am not really 100 percent sure on what my stuff is like now because I had a real small taste of it before my elbow flared up again. I am really looking forward to this year. Hopefully I can be healthy, I am just going to go after pro hitters with my best stuff I got. It’s going to be a big learning year, I am not expecting to go out there and strike everyone out. I am looking to learn from my mistakes and just build off that.

Petey:  What part of your game are you planning on working the hardest on this coming season?

Steve:  This year I really want to focus on not getting rattled if I have a bad outing. Instead, build off that, and learning from it like I said in the last answer.

Petey:  What do you like to do for fun when your not playing baseball? What is your workout schedule like these days? Can you describe your regimen?

Steve:  When I am not playing baseball I still like to be outdoors. Anything from fishing, camping or just sitting around a fire with some buddies from back home, and this past year I have started hunting. I just got to Port St. Lucie to be in the warm weather as I start to throw again. So I can get an early start before spring training is here, working out with a couple of other guys.

Petey:  You grew up on Long Island, were you a Mets fan? (say yes) Who was 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?

Steve:  Yeah I was a Mets fan growing up. Currently when Johan Santana is healthy he is really fun to watch. There was no one particular player that was my favorite. I’ve heard that my style was similar to Andy Pettitte, but I really am not sure. That would be pretty cool if I can have as much success as him though.

Petey:  Since you joined the Mets organization, pick one player in the system that has really impressed you with his play, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

Steve:  Definitely Santana because we were both in rehab together. Seeing the way he goes about his business is impressive. What I took notice from him is, that being an athlete on the mound matters. He is a competitor, and one heck of an athlete, and all that contributes to his success. To go along with the stuff he has, is why he has a couple of Cy Young awards.

Petey:  Yes, Johan is a very special player, hopefully you will both come back strong in 2012! To finish up Steve, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Steve:  Favorite movie has got to be Forrest Gump, favorite musician is either Justin Moore or Reckless Kelly, and I’ll tell you this, that the only food I don’t like is olives. I literally like every food, but a good old fashion burger has got to be on top of that list somewhere.

Petey:  Thanks again Steve for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! Have a healthy and successful season this year, and we’ll see you on the bump at spring training!

Steve:  No problem, Thank you!

Well here’s wishing Steve the best of luck in his throwing program, and a speedy return to the mound! It’s been a long time coming, but soon we’ll get to see him pitching for real in live game situations. Go get ‘em Steve! We’ll check back with him again and see how things are going.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

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Get To Know Mets Pitching Prospect Bret Mitchell http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/get-to-know-mets-pitching-prospect-bret-mitchell.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/get-to-know-mets-pitching-prospect-bret-mitchell.html/#comments Mon, 16 Jan 2012 14:12:22 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=69489

This week I caught up with NY Mets right-handed pitching prospect, Bret Mitchell. Bret was the 2011 Sterling Award Winner as the Kingsport Mets Pitcher of the Year. The Mets were fortunate to be able to get a quality arm like Mitchell’s with their 12th round pick in the 2010 draft.  Now, after rehabbing from an injury suffered at the end of last year, he is poised to have a big season in 2012. Bret was nice enough to answer questions about his pitching as a professional so far, and where he sees his game heading into this year. Check it out to see what else Bret had to say:

Petey:  We are chatting today with New York Mets right-handed pitching prospect Bret Mitchell, who pitched last season for the Kingsport Mets, and the Brooklyn Cyclones. Hi Bret, thanks so much for taking the time out to do this interview for our readers and staff at MetsMerizedOnline.com. I hope you had a very nice Christmas, and a happy New Year. Did you spend the holidays back home in Minnesota with family and friends? How much snow do you have there?

Bret:  I had a great time in Minnesota this year for the holidays. I have a big family and it is great when I get a chance to see all of them. It has been a great winter here, I have been able to play catch outside which is something I’m not used to doing in Minnesota in January.

Petey:  When the Mets drafted you out of Minnesota State University in the 12th 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?

Bret:  The day I got drafted I was on the bus getting ready to start a game in Alexandria, MN, in the Northwoods League. My cousin called me and gave me the news. I talked to the Mets a couple of times and they said they were interested, but I had no idea until that phone rang.

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?

Bret:  I’ve been playing baseball my entire life so picking one person is very hard. I have had a lot of great coaches but my older brother Jerry has always been there. He gave me the confidence to keep going with my career.

Petey:  If you could fill us in on your arsenal Bret. What pitches you throw, at what speeds, and are you working on any new pitches moving forward? What is generally your approach to attacking hitters?

Bret:  I have a four pitch arsenal of: fastball, curveball, slider, change. My fastball is high 80′s – low 90′s. My curve is a 12-6, which I use for my out pitch. I started throwing my change-up last year, and I give it a lot of the credit for my success last year. My slider is my 4th pitch. It is hard, and I use it as another way to keep hitters unbalanced. My approach to pitching is attacking early, throw strikes, mix pitches and set a tempo.

Petey:  The 2011 baseball season opened for you playing in the Appalachian League for the Kingsport Mets, where you got off to a fantastic start. You made 7 game starts going 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA. In 39.2 innings you gave up 24 hits, while striking out 38 and walking 12, giving you an opponents batting average against of .175, and a WHIP of 0.91. That terrific effort got you a call-up to Brooklyn, in the New York Penn League, at the beginning of August. What was the biggest thing you got from your experience of playing at Kingsport?

Bret:  Learning how to call my own game was something I worked hard on there, and something I’m still working on a lot.

Petey:  After your promotion, you made one start for Brooklyn on August 7th against the Staten Island Yankees in which you left with two outs in the 5th inning and a 7-2 lead. Were you injured, or was it a pitch count thing? I noticed you were put on the DL a few days later with a groin strain, which must have been a big disappointment. Were you recovered in time to go to instructs?

Bret:  It was a pitch count thing, but it was probably best for me to come out because I did end up straining my groin during that game. I wasn’t ready in time for instructs but I’m 100% now.

Petey:  How did you like your time playing in Brooklyn?

Bret:  I enjoyed my time in Brooklyn, playing in New York was a great experience.

Petey:  What part of your game are you planning on working the hardest on this coming season?

Bret:  Staying healthy is number one. But I’m working on a 2-seam fastball as well, hopefully it will be ready for this season.

Petey:  What is the most important thing you have learned about pitching in your professional career so far?

Bret:  The most important thing to me is trusting myself, stay the course and keep working hard.

Petey:  What do you like to do for fun over the off-season? When did your serious workout schedule begin? Can you describe your workout regimen?

Bret:  I like to be outdoors, staying active, and spending time with my family and friends. I was rehabbing my groin during the beginning of the off-season, but now I’m 4 weeks into my throwing program. I’m still working on strengthening my groin so I do the rehab for that in the morning. I play catch with my catcher from college. After catch I run and do my work out for the day.

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?

Bret:  I have lived in Minnesota my entire life so naturally I grew up a Twins fan. I have always had an interest in Nolan Ryan. I loved the way he would just attack the hitter and try to dominate the game. Also we were both taken 12th round by the Mets.

Petey:  Haha! I see you did some research on that! If you could, pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year for the Kingsport Mets or Brooklyn Cyclones, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

Bret:  Tillman Pugh impressed me a lot with his skills, but more importantly to me, he plays hard everyday and he just wants to win.

Petey:  I had the pleasure of getting to know Tillman a little bit this off-season, and he is a terrific guy and a serious competitor for sure. To finish up Bret, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Bret:  My favorite movie I got to go with Tommy Boy it gets me every time. I like listening to the radio either classic rock, or sports talk shows. My favorite food would be anything homemade, or seafood.

Petey:  Thanks again Bret 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 we’ll see you on the bump at spring training!

Bret:  Thank you for asking me to do this if you have anything else you would like to know, feel free to ask. Thank you again.

Mitchell is a very interesting pitching prospect for the Mets. He has a good chance of winning a spot in the Savannah rotation for this year, and if he stays healthy, can place himself squarely on the Top Prospect Map in 2012. He’s a good guy and we wish him the best!

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Pitching Prospect Erik Goeddel, RHP http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-pitching-prospect-erik-goeddel-rhp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-exclusive-interview-mets-pitching-prospect-erik-goeddel-rhp.html/#comments Sun, 08 Jan 2012 15:10:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=69060

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?

Erik: Favorite movie is Gladiator, bands probably Linkin Park and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And I pretty much like all 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.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here. 

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MMO Talkin’ Baseball: Mets Pitching Prospect Scott Moviel http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-talkin-baseball-mets-pitching-prospect-scott-moviel.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/01/mmo-talkin-baseball-mets-pitching-prospect-scott-moviel.html/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 23:15:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=68543

I got a chance to talk with Mets right-hander Scott Moviel just after Christmas and he was nice enough to bring us up-to-date as far as his progress in 2011. Before last season Scott was battling knee troubles which can be problematic for a pitcher who stands 6’11″. Now healthy once again, he provides us with some very interesting insights on the challenges he is taking on heading into next year. Check it out and see what he has to say:

Petey:  We are chatting with Scott Moviel, RHP in the Mets organization. Scott pitched in the starting rotation for St. Lucie, Advanced-A, in the Florida State League for the 2011 season. Hi Scott, thanks so much for taking time out to chat with us at MetsMerizedOnline.com. Our readers and staff really appreciate it! How are things? Did you have a nice Christmas?

Scott:  Hello Pete and staff at MetsMerizedOnline.com! Things are very well, just staying in shape and keeping busy. Christmas has passed but I was very well prepared, and got all my gifts way in advance.

Petey:  Not me, I was late getting my shopping done this year, and was stuck in the holiday crowds and insanity until late in the day on Friday. But let’s go back to when the Mets drafted you out of St. Edward High School, in Cleveland, in the 2nd round of the 2007 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?

Scott:  As you may know I was signed to go to NC State and was very excited about the opportunity to play at a great university. As my senior year began at St. Edward, I had started to get a lot of visits from MLB scouts at my home and realized that I had a good chance at the 1st to 5th round of the ’07 draft. Although about 85% of all the teams had made a visit, the New York Mets were not one of them. Not until my last game of my high school season did I hear from a Mets scout in person after an outing and still they did not stand out amongst the many others showing interest at that time. When draft day came I was very excited and nervous as to what the day would bring! I had many close friends, family, and my agent over to my house for a small draft party. After the 1st round had passed and a close call with almost being selected by the New York Yankees late 1st round, I received a phone call from the Cardinals and was told they wanted to take me somewhere around pick #86, when out of nowhere my aunt shouted from the computer room “Scott is going to be a New York Met!” very loudly. Now at this point I had literally hung up the phone with the Cards and was discussing things with my parents in their room alone, and when I heard that I ran out to see what all the commotion was in the computer room. When I got to the computer room it was on ESPN draft tracker and it said that the Mets had selected me and I was elated and shocked because I didn’t really know they had interest in me. About five minutes later calls from New York Mets personal and media were congratulating me and asking tons of questions.

Petey:  Wow that’s crazy, the MLB draft sounds like controlled chaos! 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?

Scott:  My brothers played a huge roll in my interest and development in baseball. I am the youngest of four boys and have learned a lot from my older brothers growing up, along with two very good parents who have funded my interest in baseball and pushed me to reach for the sky in anything I do. Having two brothers already playing minor league baseball Greg (Seattle Mariners) and Paul (Chicago White Sox/Tampa Bay) I was very blessed and inspired by both of them to chase that dream of toeing up a MLB pitching rubber!

Petey:  For those of us who haven’t seen you pitch yet, could you tell us a little bit 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?

Scott:  I throw a 4 seam fastball between 88-93 mph and tops out at 95 mph, a 2 seam fastball at about 88-90 mph, a circle change between 82-85 mph, a slider between 78-84 mph, and a curveball anywhere from 75-80 mph. I am a contact pitcher and like to challenge the hitters I face, in the zone with all my pitches. Keeping the ball low in the zone is something I’m trying to perfect every year, and to be able to throw all my pitches for strikes in any count.

Petey:  You’ve had some physical setbacks, knee problems if I remember correctly. That can be very difficult for a pitcher as tall as you are. Was it two knee surgeries you had to endure? Have you gotten over the injuries, how is your health now?

Scott:  Yes I had to undergo two knee surgeries but thankfully it was only a meniscus tear both times, which is pretty mild compared to the other injuries that could happen to the knee region. My health is great and has been since the day I was cut loose from the Mets medical staff.

Petey:  Good to hear Scott. This past season was an up and down year for you at St. Lucie. You started out the season pitching well, made the Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star team, but despite leading the team in game starts with 23, the second half was a struggle for you. What do you think the problem was? Had you gotten a handle on it by the end of the season?

Scott:  Yes I was pitching very well in the beginning of the 2011 season and was feeling great about what I was accomplishing. My dive in stats at the end of the year wasn’t a good showing on paper although it was a good thing for me because it humbled me and gave me a chance to perfect my game. I have learned that the hitters I face are studying me just as much as I am them. I had success early but I was having trouble adapting to changing my pitch sequence that was working for me early, but not late in the season.

Petey:  The 2012 season will be a very important year for you, Scott. With those knee issues behind you, more than likely you will get a shot at making the Binghamton staff in the Eastern League. Is that your goal to get to AA this year? It’s considered by many to be a big jump from Advanced A to AA, how do you feel about that? What will you concentrate on in 2012 to succeed at the next level?

Scott:  My team that I will play for next season is completely up to my performance and the Mets staff in spring training. I am setting the goal as I have every spring training, and that’s to make it a level higher than played the previous season. With that being said I know that wherever I end up all my job will be, is to do my best, compete, have fun, and finish the season with improvements that will get me into a big league Mets uniform! My focus next season is as always repeating my delivery and throwing strikes with all of my pitches. As to the jump from High-A to AA, all I know is you have to throw strikes and challenge hitters with all of your pitches and success will surface.

Petey:  What do you like to do for fun over the off-season? I’d imagine you’ve already started your workout schedule. Can you describe your off-season workout regimen?

Scott:  I enjoy playing PS3 in my free time although I’ve been keeping busy this off-season with a day time job, two hour workouts, and giving baseball lessons everyday. My brother Greg Moviel and I have a very dedicated workout regimen we do together, and push each other everyday to get stronger and faster, and prepared for spring training. Monday and Thursday are upper body lift days, Tuesday and Friday are lower body lifts, and Wednesday and Saturday are dedicated to speed and agility. We have just begun throwing this week!

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? The Mets just signed 6’10″ reliever Jon Rauch, but I believe he would be looking up at you, no? Haha!

Scott:  My favorite team growing up was proudly the Cleveland Indians and always has a place in my heart, haha. My favorite player was Albert Bell but in high school it changed to the big guy C.C.Sabathia. I don’t believe I have a certain style similar to anyone who has pitched in the bigs but I do enjoy watching C.C. and how he attacks and forces bad contact on hitters challenging them constantly. If I do get a chance to see Rauch I believe we would be eye to eye, I’ll have to get a tall check at some point in spring training!

Petey:  Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play this year at St. Lucie, and tell us what it was that made you take notice.

Scott:  I would have to say Matt den Dekker is a guy who really impressed me on the field and in the club house as a teammate. His mode is always on 100% and he makes a ton of great catches behind every pitcher which is always a great thing! Very smart and talented ball player.

Petey:  Indeed he is an exciting player to watch. Just to finish up Scott, a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie? Favorite musician or band? Favorite food?

Scott:  Favorite movie is hands down Home Alone, and that is not because it’s been playing through the holidays. It has always been a top favorite of mine for many years now. Music favorites are everything from Classic Rock, Country, to Rap and Hip Hop, Lil Wayne is my most played on the iPod. Favorite food is definitely Chicken Quesadilla.

Petey:  Awesome! Thanks again Scott for taking time out for this interview. The readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it! A very happy, and healthy New Years to you and your family, and we’ll see ya at spring training!

Scott:  Thanks for the questions and interest in my career so far with the Mets. Feel free anytime to interview me, Pete. Hope the holidays have been good for you and your family and have a great New Years! Go Mets!

After dealing with knee injuries that slowed his development, Scott, who is now 23, seems to be healthy and back on the right track again. That is good news to Met fans who have been pulling for him for quite some time to bring his commanding presence to the bump at Citifield. A strong showing in the Eastern League to open 2012, and that day might not be too far off.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.     

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Daniel Murphy Feeling Healthy In Preparation For Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/daniel-murphy-feeling-healthy-in-preparation-for-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/12/daniel-murphy-feeling-healthy-in-preparation-for-season.html/#comments Thu, 15 Dec 2011 15:42:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=67713 Daniel Murphy spread the holiday cheer by donning the big red suit as Santa Claus for the Mets Kids’ Holiday Party at Citi Field. He joked that he hopes everyone doesn’t think he’s a better Santa Claus than a baseball player.

Most importantly, Murphy said that both his knees are feeling good in anticipation for spring training.

“I’m done with my rehab, and now we’re really into the strengthening phase,” he said. “I always have that one cut that I need to make to trust it again, and I had that a couple of weeks ago.”

Santa Murphy spread some holiday joy.

Santa Murphy spread some holiday joy.

Heading into spring training, it seems that it will be Murphy manning second base for the Mets. Ruben Tejada will shift to shortstop due to the departure of Jose Reyes, so Murph becomes the man at second.

Though he’s concentrating on getting as much work in at second base as possible, that doesn’t mean that he’s not going to work at other positions. Also, being the frontrunner to win the second base job doesn’t mean that he’s not going to work.

“I still got a lot of work to do at second base, and there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Murphy said. “My understanding is that I’m going into spring training as a second baseman with a good chance to win the job.”

He said he definitely needs to work more on the double play, but he feels much more comfortable now after working at it the past year than he did last year at this time.

Regarding the new dimensions at Citi Field, Murphy said he didn’t think it would turn him into a better power hitter.

“I’m going to try to hit the ball as hard as I can as many times as I can,” he said. “If it happens to run out of real estate, that’s kind of a bonus for me.”

Murphy also addressed his injury history in that it was mostly bad luck. While he takes the blame in that he must put himself in a better position, he admitted the first injury was from a dirty slide. As the offseason progresses, he will focus on the double play pivot extensively.

The team has discussed briefly the possibility of having Murphy lead off, now that Reyes and Angel Pagan are gone. Murphy said that he would only lead off once per game and would let the circumstances of the game dictate his approach.

Speaking of Reyes, Murphy said it will be strange to play against Jose after being his teammate, but the game itself comes before personal relationships with opponents.

“When we play him…he’s on the other side now,” Murphy said. “He’s a Marlin now. As far as I’m concerned once the bell rings, you’re on the other side.

He did say that he’d have Reyes and his $106 million pick up the tab if they go out to dinner in Miami.

Rather than worry about his individual stats, Murphy has one goal: 95-100 wins. Though that may be a tall order this season, he’s excited with the potential of this team.

“I want to win a pennant, and there’s no better place to win it than New York City so it’s about time to get to it, I think,” said Murphy.

Believe or not, Murphy is the fourth longest-tenured Met behind Johan Santana, David Wright and Mike Pelfrey. However, he said he still feels like one of the younger guys and is looking forward to playing with a young new core.

Murphy was recently mentioned in trade rumors with the Dodgers showing interest. He took this as a compliment in that other teams are interested in his talents.

But he is committed to the Mets and thinks that if the team stays healthy, they can put the negative stigma of the past few seasons behind them.

As spring training approaches, Murphy hopes to transform himself into what he considers an above average first baseman to a competent second baseman.

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