Twenty Questions With Scott Kazmir

Kazmir started the 2003 season in Cap City before being promoted to St. Lucie and becoming a key cog in the club's championship season. Kazmir capped a terrific season by pitching 5.1 innings of one hit, shutout ball in the championship clinching game.

Scott Kazmir was selected with the Mets first pick in the 2002 draft, and has blown people away in his first 30 professional starts, striking out over 12 batters per 9 innings. Scott shows amazing poise and polish for a player as young as he is (19) who is only a year into his professional career.

Here we go...20 Questions with Scott Kazmir. :)

NYF: What were your pitch counts this year? Was that frustrating to you?

Kazmir: At the beginning of the season, in Cap City, my pitch count was around 40 pitches. My pitch count was raised pretty much each game until I got up to around 80-85 pitches which was about 3 months into the season. When I got to St. Lucie, it was raised to up to 90-100 pitches depending on the situation. It was not frustrating for me because I knew exactly what was going on, what my pitch count would be for the given day. I knew it was good for me basically building my arm strength back up with not throwing during spring training. The part that did get kind of frustrating was when I would be in tight situations, my pitch count was coming up and I felt capable of throwing more pitches to work my way through the inning to finish it.

NYF: Do the Mets convey expectations and benchmarks for you to strive for?

Kazmir: Yes, we(players) are sent off season workout plans for strength and conditioning. I also received a couple of weeks ago objectives to work on during the off season such as continue to work on quick move to the plate, continue to work on change up... things like that.

NYF: You have been branded by some scouts as the best LHP in the minors or even the best pitcher period in the minors. Do you feel any added pressure with that label so early in your career?

Kazmir: No, it basically just motivates me to keep working hard to move up the ladder. When I am pitching, nothing like that puts any pressure on me because I am not paying any attention to anything outside of the game that I am currently playing in.

NYF: You have had many memorable baseball moments, like getting drafted in the first round winning the FSL championship, etc. What do you think is your most memorable moment up till now?

Kazmir: Wow, there have been several, but I guess the most memorable would probably be after I was drafted and my brother, mother and father flew to NY and first went to the field, through the office, clubhouse, met the GM, front office, players. Being on the same field as these superstars. It seemed kind of weird being in the same spot as them. I got a chance to talk to a couple of them. It was just a great experience. After going into the club house to get dressed out to do a bullpen and putting on a Mets jersey with my name on it and pitching in front of Bobby Valentine, Steve Phillips and the press. It was crazy (cool). I was in NY for the first time throwing a bullpen, seeing a subway go by, it was a completely different atmosphere. It was unbelievable. And probably the best part of that day was at the beginning of a game when I was announced as the first round pick in front of what I felt was a capacity crowd and getting the ovation and the support of the fans was just unbelievable. I felt so fortunate and proud but also felt it was just the beginning. The Mets, reporters, and fans were so nice and made me feel so welcome. It was just amazing.

NYF: I remember reading about you working on a change up last year once you reported to Brooklyn. How is that development coming and your development as a pitcher in general? Is there something you need more work on right now then anything else?

Kazmir: I think my change up has developed, I think drastically from the beginning of the season because at the beginning of the season it was sometimes hard for me to throw it for a strike much less put the action on it I wanted to. As the year went on, I kept throwing it. I found the grip I was more comfortable with and threw it more in the games. By the end of the season, I felt as comfortable with the change up as my other pitches other than my fastball. It became a good pitch for me in certain situations.

NYF: What's it like during spring training for the minor leaguers when they are at the same complex for sometime at least with the Major League team? Did you get to meet any of the players and talk to them at any length?

Kazmir: It was neat. The feeling was kind of an awe of amazement and respect seeing the major leaguers on the other side of the complex playing, practicing and being that close to them. Seeing them in admiration and knowing that is where I want to be. I got to say hello to a couple of them. I had hoped to talk to Tom Glavine about pitching to learn from him, but, I never got a chance to speak with him. Hopefully I will next year. It would be nice to be able to sit down and talk with him. I think I could learn a lot of things from him.

NYF: What were your first thoughts when you walked into Shea last fall?

Kazmir: When I stepped out to home plate before the game started and seeing the stands filled, the stadium seemed huge. It was overwhelming, awesome. I loved it.

Scott Kazmir
Scott Kazmir: Compares himself to Billy Wagner, but seeks to be a Pedro Martinez type.
NYF: What current/present ML pitchers would you compare your pitching style to, or do you see as role models?

Kazmir: There are different things from various current MLB players that I compare myself to. Growing up living in Houston and watching the Astros, I would have to say Billy Wagner's left handed power pitcher with a high leg kick, the difference being my goal is to be a starter like Pedro Martinez. Another is Josh Beckett with his high strikeout rate. Josh played in our district and he was in his last year of high school as I was entering. I admired his high strike out rate and was able to break it my senior year in the same number of innings. To see him in the majors now and pitching a nine inning shut out game to win the World Series is awesome. I would love to be in the same spot pitching the final game in the World Series. That is motivating.

I have had many people compare my style to Ron Guidry. That's not a current player but him being a left- handed starting pitcher with a similar build, fastball and slider. He also lead the club in strikeouts and pitched the winning game in the World Series.

NYF: What is your current offseason regimen? Will you be pitching anywhere this winter?

Kazmir: My off season regimen right now consist pretty much on going to the gym and working on my strength and conditioning plan which has me working out to increase the lower and upper body, core and scapula. Later I will add some pitching where I will be working on those objectives.

NYF: Can you tell us what it was like playing high school baseball in Texas? Year in and year out some of the best talent comes out of that state for baseball.

Kazmir: Well, in Texas you can play baseball year round pretty much. There is summer, fall and winter ball. It was very helpful in the early years when select ball first started and few coaches got together and organized select teams by inviting players from various neighborhood ballparks across Houston to play together. Many players like James Loney and I played together early on even though we lived across town from each other. It just helped us move our game to the next level. And it seemed that was only the beginning. By that time between playing high school ball, in tough districts, and select ball, the bar was constantly being raised and everyone's game was getting better. I know playing on the Houston Heat select team, we would play all over Texas and a few games outside of Texas. Looking back over it all, all I can say is it was fun. The competition, the relationships...over the years you meet a lot of players and accumulate a lot of friends playing the sport you love and at the same time progressing to the next level.

NYF: Every player must have some level of expectation as to what it is going to be like in pro ball. Is there anything that has happened that you totally didn't expect?

Kazmir: No, not really. I had talked to people and was told before my career started what to expect so I feel I was prepared.

NYF: There have been different accounts of your repertoire in a number of different articles. Can you give us a walkthrough of what you throw, how you would rate your confidence in each pitch, and what you would throw in a big situation like facing Barry Bonds with the game on the line?

Kazmir: I have four pitches, the fast ball, slider, curve and now the change up. This year I worked on developing my change up and feel comfortable throwing it for strikes now. My fastball is my number one pitch. Then the slider, curve and now change up. What would I throw to Barry Bonds with the season on the line? Well, I guess that would depend on the situation, maybe my fastball or slider.

NYF: Of all the guys in the Mets system you have played with, scrimmaged against, thrown BP to, who would you say are the best hitters?

Kazmir: Of all the batters I have faced in camp games or BP would probably be Bobby Malek or Chase Lambin. Both have good swings, a good eye for the strike zone. They also have quick bats.

NYF: Is there anyone amongst the pitching coaches you've worked with in the Mets system that you enjoyed working with the most?

Kazmir: I have enjoyed working with every single pitching coach from Bobby Ojeda, Blane Beatty, to Dan Wortham. With all of them, I feel I had a good working relationship and enjoyed them being my pitching coaches. I can't say I enjoyed one coach the most over the other because each had their own different personalities and different relationships. I enjoyed working with each of them a lot.

NYF: The recent hiring of Rick Peterson must be great news to you. Do you have any comments about working with him and how it might effect your development?

Kazmir: I listened to the interview on WFAN with him and he had a lot of good things to say about developing players, preventing injuries - he has a plan. It can only be good for my development.

NYF: Do you use a computer a lot? Do you go online? What are your favorite sites?

Kazmir: I don't spend much time online but when I do, it is usually for shopping or listening to music. I'm not good at checking email and I don't do it often enough. I need to get better at that. I don't spend too much time online but sometimes I like to go to your site and the NY Mets site to check up on guys and see what is going on in the organization.

NYF: Do you have any goals or expectations you have set for yourself as to when you want to be in the big leagues by?

Kazmir: I am motivating myself to be able to be in the Major Leagues by 2004 instead of 2005 and am working hard to be able to get there. But I think what ever the Mets have planned for me and what ever level I'm at will be the level I should be. I am just working hard to get there as fast as I can. My current goal is to work hard during the off season, hopefully invited to the major league spring training and pitch the best I can against the big guys.

NYF: Does seeing how well Mark Prior and Josh Beckett pitched in the postseason give you added confidence as you pursue your dreams of pitching at that level?

Kazmir: Yes it does. Seeing Mark Prior and Josh Beckett having their success in the major leagues gives me confidence. To see Josh Beckett was in the same spot that I was and look at him now... throwing 9 innings of shut out ball in the World Series. It gives me motivation in that, if he can do it, so can I.

NYF: Did you have any favorite teams or favorite players you followed growing up in Houston?

Kazmir: Living my life in Houston, I was always a Houston Astros fan and tried to go to as many games as I could and watch them play. We had Billy Wagner, the killer B's in Bagwell, Biggio, Bell, Barry and Berkman. I always like watching them and rooting for them. I would watch them on TV as much as I could.

NYF: Do you follow the ML teams and the other Mets teams during the season?

Kazmir: I like to follow the major league teams. I like knowing what is going on in the Mets organization...what team is doing what.

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