Gators in the Minor Leagues: Matt Den Dekker

Former Gator baseball standout, Matt Den Dekker is quickly moving through the New York Mets minor league system. After starting the 2011 season with the St. Lucie Mets, Den Dekker got the call up to AA before the All Star break. Fightin' Gators' Milani Beaudrault caught up with Den Dekker to find out how his first full professional season is going.

Matt Den Dekker was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB first year player draft following his senior season at the University of Florida. After batting .346 in 104 at bats for the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2010 and performing well in his first spring training, Den Dekker found himself in the Mets' Class A Advanced affiliate to begin this season. But, it wasn't long before Den Dekker's bat began heating up and he made the move to AA.

Den Dekker hit .296 with 6 homeruns in 267 at bats for the St. Lucie Mets to start the season and is currently hitting .240 with 5 homeruns in 121 at bats for the Binghamton Mets. Den Dekker says his experience in minor league baseball has been a dream come true and more than he ever imagined.

"Minor league baseball has been an incredible experience so far. I have been in Savannah, GA, Port St Lucie, FL and now in Binghamton, NY. Three really great leagues and its fun to get a chance to travel and play at different ball parks. I always enjoy playing the game and my teammates make things fun; we have a lot of great guys on the team. Also not having to go to class and not having too much to worry about besides baseball has been really nice," Den Dekker said.

While playing professional baseball has been a childhood dream for the Jacksonville native, Den Dekker says he is lucky to begin his career with an organization like the New York Mets.

"The Mets as a whole have been great. All of the coaches have been easy to play for and expect you to play hard and show up ready everyday. They are very knowledgeable so I am just trying to learn as much as I can from them," Den Dekker said.

Den Dekker says he was forced to make some adjustments at the plate upon his promotion to AA, but overall he says he thinks he has adjusted well and hopes to finish out the season strong.

"The competition in Double A is a step up from High A the pitching and hitters are a little better and a little more consistent. I think I have transitioned well and know what to expect in the future," Den Dekker said.

When asked where he hopes to be at the start of next season, Den Dekker said he is "just going to take it one day at a time."

"First of all, I want to have quality at bats and finish the season out strong. It is my goal to make it the big leagues so I want to play well and put myself into a position where I can do that. I am always looking to get better in all areas of the game, I think my offensive game has gotten a lot better but I am trying to learn every day," Den Dekker said.

Den Dekker was the rock of the Florida Gators outfield during his college career. Although, he says he misses the intensity of college baseball and the SEC, Den Dekker says that experience has prepared him for professional baseball.

"The biggest difference between college and the pros is playing every day. We have stretches of 20 days without a day off so it is definitely a grind and you have to take care of your body so you can be ready to play every day," Den Dekker said.

As for Den Dekker's offseason plans he says nothing is set in stone. But he adds he may make his way back to Gainesville to work out with his former team, the Florida Gators.

Fightin Gators Top Stories