New York Mets right-handed pitching prospect Chasen Bradford was kind enough to grant me an interview which I’m pleased to share with MMO.
Chasen was drafted by the Mets in the 35th round of the 2011 MLB Draft and he always stood out to me as someone who did not get the attention he deserved. Chasen has performed exceptionally well at every minor league level and has a career 2.80 ERA in 105 minor league appearances.
This season, Chasen started the year in Single-A St. Lucie and has worked his way up to Double-A Binghamton. Bradford has a 2.62 ERA on the year and has been virtually unhittable for B-Mets, posting a 0.42 ERA in 21.2 innings. He is on track to making his major league debut sometime next season. Chasen displays a very effective sinker and has an above average slider. I see quite a lot of similarities between him and former Mets farmhand Joe Smith. Without further ado: here is my interview with Chasen Bradford… Enjoy…
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Thank you for taking the time out to answer some of my questions, Chasen… The staff here at MMO and the readers of the site appreciate it.
Before I begin: I just wanted to wish you a Happy Belated Birthday! (August 5th). How did you celebrate on your special day?
You were drafted by the Mets in the 35th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of the University of Central Florida. How did you find out and describe the moment for me.
I was actually cleaning my room out at UCF and getting ready to go home when my roommates started yelling out that I had been selected by the New York Mets in the 35th round. It was an amazing feeling knowing that I was actually going to get a chance to play professional baseball for such an amazing organization.
How was the draft process for you? Did the Mets show the most interest in you?
Being a senior, I only really talked to two or three teams including the Mets. All the teams told me the same thing. They said I would not get a big signing bonus, but I was going to get a chance to play and that’s all that really matters.
You transferred out of the College of Southern Nevada after your sophomore season to attend the University of Central Florida. How difficult was your decision to transfer and what have you taken away from your time playing college baseball?
CSN is a junior college and my time there was done. I have a degree from CSN in anthropology. UCF was the next step and it allowed me to get my bachelors. Being at UCF also helped me to mature more as a person and as an athlete since I was away from family. It was a great place to go to learn and grow as a person and athlete.
You have had incredible success at every minor league level you have been to. You have a 2.76 career ERA and that number keeps dropping by the day. What do you credit this success to?
My success comes from the support I have received from my family and friends especially my big brother. He pushes me to give everything I have in case anything happens. Even if something doesn’t work out, I know in my soul that I did everything I could and gave it my best shot.
Can you give me a brief scouting report of yourself as a pitcher?
I throw a hard sinker and a slider. I don’t try to strike people out, but instead try to let them put the ball in play and let my defense do what they do best.
How do you attack hitters and what is your philosophy towards pitching? How do you feel about pitching out of the bullpen?
My philosophy is to just attack the hitters and throw strikes. Hitters get themselves out a lot of the time. I love pitching out of the bullpen. It’s a tough job but I think I fit right in and I have grown comfortable with my role as a relief pitcher.
Frank Viola, your pitching coach in Savannah last season, gave a glowing assessment of your sinker describing it as a pitch he “fell in love” with. What impact has Coach Viola had on your career?
Frank is an awesome guy and a great pitching coach. He focuses on the mental aspects of the game rather than the mechanical part. He understands how long the season can be and that there are always are ups and downs but he preaches that things will always get better if you work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone.
AA is often believed to be the toughest level for players to adjust to in the minor leagues. However, you have been unhittable for Binghamton (0.42 ERA) since your promotion in early July. What adjustments have you made since pitching for St. Lucie earlier this season?
Earlier in the year my stuff wasn’t as sharp as it could have been and I was giving up bloop singles as a result. Ron Romanick has worked with me to make some mechanical changes to my delivery. My stuff has started to move later and closer to the plate, which is what you need in order to reach and pitch in the big leagues.
The next stop on your journey to the Major Leagues is with AAA Las Vegas. You were born and raised in Nevada. The possibility of pitching so close to your family and friends must be very exciting, right?
It would be awesome to get back to Vegas to pitch. My parents have never seen me pitch in a professional ball game. Many of my friends are there so they could come out as well. Pitching in Las Vegas would also bring me one step closer to my ultimate goal.
The minor league season is almost over and the offseason will be here in a few months. What do you do to prepare for a new season and when do you start preparing?
I usually just relax and golf for a month. However, this year there is a chance that I will be playing winter ball so I may have to adjust my plans a little bit. The offseason is where all the hard work begins.
You have an older brother Mark who is in the navy and threw out the first pitch at a Savannah Sand Gnats game last season. Can you describe how special that moment was for you and the impact Mark has had on your life.
It was the best night of my baseball career and a moment I will always hold close to my heart. To see your best friend who is sacrificing so much for you and this country get the opportunity to throw out the first pitch to his younger brother on a professional baseball field is humbling and amazing. Mark even got to hang out with the guys and coaches and they all loved it. I will never forget that moment even though the pitch wasn’t a strike!
Please know how much we appreciate what Mark is doing for this great country of ours. May he stay safe and healthy!
What team did you grow up rooting for?
Both of my parents are from San Diego so we all grew up Padres and Chargers fans.
Did you have any favorite players growing up and are there any current players you try to model yourself after?
My favorite player was Trevor Hoffman. He didn’t have the greatest stuff but he was always a competitor and a hard worker.
What was the most expensive thing you bought with your signing bonus?
I actually only bought a Casio G-Shock for $150!
Who was the best hitter you’ve ever faced in your professional career?
Who is your favorite player currently on the Mets?
I’ve met a few players from the big league team and they are all wonderful guys. I really can’t choose a favorite player but I like Pedro Feliciano and Tim Byrdak. They both shared a lot of knowledge with me this year in the bullpen and are great people.
Which teammate in either St. Lucie or Binghamton has impressed you the most this season?
I think what Jeff Walters is doing is amazing. Jeff definitely has the stuff to be very successful and has already set the all time saves record here in Binghamton. Everyone here is impressive and we all help each other learn different things. Binghamton is definitely an awesome place to be.
What is the best part about being a professional baseball player?
The best part of being a professional baseball player is getting to keep playing the game I grew up loving and getting a chance to make my dreams come true.
Complete this sentence: A year from now, I’ll be pitching for the _____________.
Hopefully I’ll be pitching for the Mets or at least knocking on the door with AAA Las Vegas.
Before we wrap this one up: Do you have anything you’d to say to your fans?
Thank you all for the support! It helps us get through the long season.
Thank you for your time, Chasen! Keep getting those batters out and most importantly: have fun! I’ll see you at Citi Field soon, OK?
I appreciate it… Anytime…