This morning I had the pleasure to interview Kevin McGowan Jr., a pitcher in the New York Mets organization.
1) What are your expectations heading into next season?
“Hey, man, thanks for getting a hold of me.
As far as my expectations go, my goal is to start in [Double-A]. It is for sure a stretch, but I’ve been working hard this off-season to prepare myself for that. Obviously it won’t be easy and I’ll have to beat out some guys as well as get a little bit lucky. But I’m very optimistic and I understand it’s a process so I’m okay with wherever I start and have no complaints.”
2) Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?
“Obviously in my eyes I see myself in the Big Leagues. I think the Mets have done a great job with me as well as the rest of the organization, so I can definitely see myself there in the future.”
3) This past season with the St. Lucie Mets, you went 3-5 with an ERA of 5.06, how do you look to improve your approach on the mound?
“I started in Low-A this year and threw the ball pretty well and was fortunate enough to get promoted at the All-Star break. When I got to High-A, the pitching coach and I were making some mechanical adjustments that would make me better in the long run. So basically the second half of the season was just a learning process which is exactly what I needed. Those numbers don’t look too pretty, but I honestly felt like I threw the ball better than that. I’m my biggest critic and I don’t think those numbers reflect my performance exactly. I really had two very, very tough innings that really blew my numbers up. But as for as my approach, I had some funky mechanical issues, so [I’m] just trying to iron those out and get my breaking ball a lot more consistent. I think with a few mechanical tweaks, I will get my command back to where it used to be. I feel like I have been trying so hard on the breaking ball to be so good, I put my command on the back burner. Obviously I always figured I’d have command no matter what but when you think you have something perfect in this game, it’s the first thing you lose.”
4) When you were drafted by the New York Mets in the 13th Round of the 2013 Amateur Draft, what was going through your head at the time?
“I was honestly just excited to get the opportunity. I didn’t have a good year at Franklin Pierce and I was dealing with some injuries, so I was very fortunate to get the opportunity I have been provided with. I’m very thankful for how the Mets have been with me and making me a much better ball player.”
5) You stand at 6 feet, 6 inches. Do you think your height plays toward your advantage?
“I definitely think my height plays an advantage. It’s easy for me to get on top of the ball and throw it on a downhill plane.”
6) When you’re not on the field, what do you like to do for fun? What are your hobbies? Any special talents?
“Growing up, I played four sports. So now I just try to stay as active as possible in the off-season. I still play hockey today in men’s leagues and other things like that. I’ve been working on my golf game a lot. I’m still not good. I’m basically like Happy Gilmore and just try to crush the ball which is honestly really stupid. I’m also a huge movie nerd. So whenever I go to the mall, I’ll usually walk out with a few used DVDs. Mostly really bad horror movies. Love those. But I’m not sure if I have many special talents. Just play sports basically so I don’t really think that counts. And when I’m not on the field I just like to hang out with my buddies and do whatever.”
7) Growing up as a child, which players did you idolize? Why?
“I grew up a die-hard Red Sox and Boston sports fan. So growing up I was the biggest Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez fan. Pedro wasn’t the biggest guy, but wasn’t afraid to buzz one up and in on anyone. When he was on the mound, he was so intimidating. He was this 5’11 dude that everyone was afraid to face, because he was that good. Watching his highlights now is insane because you see how uncomfortable guys were in the box against him. Plus guys took some of their worst swings against him because his stuff was devastating. He was so electric and just so good. I honesty have so much respect for him and was lucky to grow up watching him. And honestly if you grew up where I did and Pedro wasn’t you’re favorite pitcher, you were lying. He was the best pitcher in baseball when I was growing up. And Manny was just easy to idolize. He had the smoothest swing and was a funny dude. Manny being Manny. He would look bad on one pitch, they would throw it again, and he would take it on to Lansdowne street.”
8) When did you first realize that this was your dream?
“When I was growing up I loved hockey and baseball more than anything. I was just hoping when I was older to get the opportunity to play one professionally. When I was in high school, baseball seemed like a more realistic option for me because I wanted to go to college and didn’t want to play junior hockey. Franklin Pierce gave me an opportunity to go to school and get a chance to make an impact on the team right away. So that was the best option and I couldn’t be happier for how things have worked out. I also remember growing up watching my uncle Sean play for the Portland Sea Dogs, so I just remember going to the ball park and wanted to be where he was.”
9) What did you have to do in order to get where you are now?
“To get to where I am now, I had to get my priorities straight. In high school I was incredibly lazy. All I wanted to do was skateboard. My high school coach finally got through to me and basically said to me I have an opportunity to do something with baseball and he basically just told me not to screw it up. He was very hard on me but looking back on it, it is exactly what I needed. So after high school I started to get in the weight room and went to college and finally realized what hard work was. Now I love lifting and working out. Another thing is, you have to make sacrifices. You have to figure out what you want in life and what you need to do to get there. So I made a goal and have been kind of going off that.”