Corey Oswalt is entering his first big league camp this year as he was placed on the 40-man roster this past offseason to protect him from being eligible for the Rule V Draft.
The Mets drafted the then-18-year old in the 7th round of the 2012 MLB Draft out of Madison High School in San Diego, California.
The right-hander started his minor league career at Kingsport and has also pitched with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Savannah Sand Gnats, St. Lucie Mets, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
For his career, the now 24-year old is 37-18 with a 3.36 ERA, 379 strikeouts, and 1.260 WHIP in 86 games including 80 starts.
This past season was a breakout year, though, as he went 12-5 with a 2.68 ERA, 119 strikeouts, and 1.176 WHIP in a career-high 24 starts (134.1 innings).
As a result, Oswalt was presented with the Mets Organizational Pitcher of the Year Award for 2017.
I got the chance to speak with him about his first big-league camp and his career to date.
Note: This interview took place before he made his first Spring Training appearance this year, in which he pitched two scoreless innings while striking out four batters and allowing only one hit.
MMO: Did it feel any different stepping on the big league side of camp for the first time in your career this week?
Corey: Yes, it felt a little different just being surrounded by the pitchers, but it’s fun and it was awesome my first time out there with them.
Corey: Yeah, I spoke to them a little bit during my bullpens. They have great knowledge and I’m very excited to get to work with them.
MMO: Have they given you any specific advice so far?
Corey: No, not yet, they have really just been talking to me during bullpens and then here and there after that so it’s been good.
MMO: What goals have you set for yourself this season, in terms of your development as a pitcher?
Corey: Well, I just want to be able to work all four pitches consistently, just keep attacking hitters, and just keep doing what I’ve been doing. Everything else will take care of itself, as long as I go out there and compete and give my team a chance to win.
MMO: Last year was probably the best season of your minor league career, what do believe were the biggest reasons for that?
Corey: I’ve always believed in my stuff and I started working with pitching coach Glenn Abbott on a few mechanical adjustments and my stuff got even better. Then just more consistency with my routine every day and just working hard on little things like mechanical adjustments. It kind of just all came together.
MMO: Going off the part you said about Glenn Abbott, what was the biggest part of the help Abbott gave you?
Corey: He made me stay straight across, I kind of threw across my body and so he helped me find more consistency with getting my pitches in the strike zone, standing tall, and throwing more downhill. We just kept working on it and working on it and it just started translating.
MMO: Which pitchers at camp have you communicated the most with so far?
Corey: Well, I’m pretty close with Chris Flexen. We were both in Double-A last year and I talk to him about his experiences as he got called up. I ask him about what the differences are and things like that. I’ve had a pretty good dialogue with him and he’s kind of said to just try and go out there and pitch.
MMO: What is the greatest piece of advice you’ve gotten in your career so far?
Corey: Just to stay true to yourself and stay within yourself. Always try to compete and do anything you can to win the ball game.
MMO: Just out of curiosity, when did you realize you might be able to turn baseball into a career? I know a lot of athletes will say they noticed they were ahead of the competition in like middle or high school. Was there a point like that for you?
Corey: Yeah, I think early in high school, just competing in high school ball and travel ball while competing with some of the best guys in the country. I realized then that I could go play college ball and then potentially play travel ball. So yeah, I’d say I realized this at around my freshman or sophomore year of high school.
MMO: What difference does having a receiver like Tomas Nido behind make for you?
Corey: He’s great. He has such great knowledge of the game. He knows how to call a good game which is big. Then just physically back there, he is able to steal strikes for you and help with the running game as he has the ability to throw guys out. He’s really good back there.
MMO: Also, in Binghamton, you got to play with Luis Guillorme. What’s it like knowing you have great defense behind you?
Corey: Yeah, it’s good. It’s nice to know that balls that could be hits will be taken away and you know consistently that he isn’t going to make a lot of errors. So, it’s nice that you are going to get the groundball outs you need.
MMO: I know you pitched in the Arizona Fall League. Is there anything that you learned while you were there?
Corey: Yeah, I think the biggest thing was attacking the strike zone with all of your pitches and mixing and matching. I was learning that if I could control my fastball in and out then mixing in my off-speed pitches for strikes then I really can compete against good hitters.
MMO: So far in your career, do you have a favorite moment that you could point to?
Corey: The last three teams I’ve been on have made the playoffs, but unfortunately we never won it all. So just winning the division and the playoff games were probably the most fun.
MMO: Do you think that the minor league playoff experience could help you in the future and in what ways has that helped?
Corey: Yeah, definitely once you make the playoffs you just have to go out there and do your best to compete regardless of what happened during the season. I wasn’t able to actually pitch in the playoffs my first two seasons while I was in A-ball. This year, though, in Binghamton I was able to pitch in the playoffs and help my team win. It was a good experience and I definitely think it will help me in the future.
MMO: Are there any pitchers that you have tried to emulate throughout your career?
Corey: Yeah, my favorite pitcher growing up was John Smoltz so I used to have mechanics like him. I have tweaked them a little, but his stuff and the way he went about everything was just incredible.
MMO: Definitely a great idol to have. Do you have a certain routine you follow on days you are scheduled to pitch?
Corey: Yeah, I come to the ballpark a few hours before the game. Then, I get my body loose in the hot tub, followed by some stretches I do and the trainers help me with. Two hours before the game starts, I will try to really lock in, but I really prepare throughout the week. The day after a start is the beginning of my preparation for the next one.
MMO: Do you spend a lot of time watching film?
Corey: I don’t spend too much time with film. I mostly focus on looking at hitters’ scouting reports, but when I am able to, I will look at film a little bit.
MMO: Have analytics, at all, influenced how you pitch on a day-to-day basis?
Corey: Yeah, I usually get an analytics report on hitters and their tendencies. I try to pick all the information available on hitters in order to find ways to get them out.
MMO: Okay, let’s have some fun. What’s your favorite food?
MMO: Who’s the funniest teammate you’ve had so far?
Corey: There’s a lot of funny teammates. I haven’t played with him in a couple seasons, but Jeff Diehl is pretty hilarious.
MMO: What’s your favorite TV show?
MMO: Favorite movie?
Corey: Forrest Gump.
MMO: That’s one of my favorites as well. I guess we will wrap it up here with one last question… What is your message to Mets fans this season?
Corey: There’s a lot of great players in the organization Everybody’s working hard and there is one goal in mind and that is to bring a championship to New York. I think everybody is working hard to try and accomplish that.
MMO: Thank you, Corey, for taking the time out of your busy day to do this interview for us. I really appreciate it.
Corey: Yeah, no problem. Take care!