Twenty Questions With Matthew Peterson

In a season that started slowly with a brief stint on the DL, Matt Peterson raised his status by pitching brilliantly at St. Lucie(A), making a brief appearance in Binghamton(AA) where he allowed just 12 earned runs in 31 innings, and returning to St. Lucie and throwing two gems on the way to the league championship. Now he's facing 20 Questions from NYfansonly.com.

Peterson, the Mets' 2nd round selection in the June 2000 draft, consistently reaches 93-95 mph with his fastball and had a very polished breaking ball that he throws at various speeds for strikes. He used that repertoire with outstanding command in the FSL playoffs, pitching 14 innings while allowing 1 run and striking out 19 in his two appearances.

Peterson has pitched at 4 different levels plus the AFL in two years of professional baseball, rocketing through the minor league system, as he is slated to move through Binghamton and Norfolk this year on his way to Shea in late 2004 or early 2005.

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2003

Binghamton

1-2

31

29

20

23

3.45

2003

St. Lucie

9-2

84

65

24

73

1.71

2002

St. Lucie

1-0

6

5

2

5

1.50

2002

Cap City

8-10

137

109

61

153

3.86

2001

Cap City

2-6

79

87

29

72

4.99

2001

Brooklyn

2-2

33

26

14

19

1.62



Ready? Let's change speeds and blow 20 Questions by Matt Peterson!

NYF: It was reported that you were working on a slider in the AFL, how did that progress? What motivated you to add another pitch to your repertoire?

Peterson: Slowly. The coaching staff thought it was a good idea.

NYF: New Mets' pitching coach Rick Peterson was in Arizona during the last week or so. Did you get to meet him or talk to him at all? Any impressions? Have you been told whether or not you will be going to Dr. Andrews lab in Birmingham?

Peterson: Unfortunately, I was not there at the time Mr. Peterson was in Arizona. I understand he's quite a pitching coach, and I look forward to meeting him in Spring Training.

NYF: How hard is the adjustment for a high school kid into the life of a professional baseball player?

Peterson: The hardest part for me was leaving my family and friends, since I had never been away from home, but I adjusted pretty well, making new friends who were my age and getting into the routine of things.

Matthew Peterson
Matthew Peterson: The Iceman Cometh!
NYF: The picture Ed took of you in your Top Gun sun glasses has become quite famous. Which nickname do you prefer Ponch? Maverick? or Iceman?

Peterson: Iceman!

NYF: How was the short experience you had in Binghamton this season?

Peterson: It was a great experience moving up in the organization to a higher level of play where the competition was stronger and better. I found out that the strike zone was smaller than it was in Class A, and the hitters were more patient and waited for their one pitch up in the zone to drive. We had more fans and little bit bigger ball parks.

NYF: With your performance in the past year, many scouting experts have rated you with the Mets' top prospects. How do you feel about being considered one of the best prospects in the organization?

Peterson: It feels great to be considered as one of the top prospects in the organization. I think this had a lot to do with my work ethic and preparation for the game.

NYF: Can you give everyone a little rundown of what pitches you throw, how you would rank them in terms of your confidence in them, and what pitch you lean on when you start to tire or don't have your good stuff?

Peterson: I throw a fast ball, curve ball, change up and slowly developing a slider. In terms of ranking my pitches, my fast ball is my number #1 pitch and a pitch that I can throw with enough confidence during any count. I feel that my curve ball and my change up are about the same as far as my confidence is concerned. I am able to throw my change up around the plate more often with a little more consistency. My curve ball has it good and bad days! If I start to tire or don't have my good stuff, I go to whatever is working for me on that day.

NYF: Do you have any specific goals set for the upcoming year? What kind of workout and throwing program are you working on during the off season to achieve those goals?

Peterson: Yes! My main goal is to make it to Triple A by the middle of the season. I also want to be more consistent on an everyday basis in having quality starts. I also want to be consistent at having command of all of my pitches during every start at the plate. As far as my workout program, the Mets have a specific program that I am following to achieve these goals. I will begin my throwing at the end of December in order to be ready for Spring Training. At the present time, I am working out at a gym to strengthen my legs and core areas because this is where I generate all of my power.

NYF: What Major League pitchers would you compare yourself to?

Peterson: Ben Sheets.

NYF: Who were your favorite players and team when you were a kid?

Peterson: Atlanta Braves - Greg Maddux, John Smoltz.

NYF: Its game seven of the WS, two outs, bottom of the ninth, down by one, and you're pitching. Of any hitter you have played with or against, who would you least want to be up?

Peterson: Brad Hawpe of the Colorado Rockies. Every time I faced him, he seemed to get a hit, a home run or base on balls.

NYF: What is a typical day in the life of a Met pitching prospect? On a game day, on an off day, on a day that you are pitching, etc.

Peterson: On a game day, I normally wake up at 12:30pm or 1:00pm. and will grab a bite to eat. We normally report to the field around 3:00pm to 3:30pm. to get ready for batting practice. After we stretch, throw and take batting practice, we go inside and eat a pre-game spread while the other team takes batting practice. I will then watch the game from the dugout or if I have game charts, I will sit in the stands. On an off day, we will take care of our personal errands, such as washing clothes, getting oil changed in our vehicles, buying groceries, and general housekeeping. Normally, we will hang out at somebody's apartment/house and play cards and video games. On pitching day, it's basically like a game day except I report to the field at 5:00 in the afternoon. Around 6:00, I take a shower and prepare myself mentally for my start. I start warming up at 6:45 for a 7:00 pm start.

NYF: What was the experience like this fall visiting Shea Stadium as the organization's pitcher of the year? If you were picking and couldn't pick yourself, who would you have picked as pitcher of the year?

Peterson: It was a great honor being chosen for this award. It was nice meeting the players, coaching staff and everyone in the main office. It was especially nice that my family and girlfriend were able to share this great experience with me. If I were picking and could not pick myself as pitcher of the year, I would have chosen Bob Keppel. He had a really great year; he put up great numbers and even mixed in a no-hitter.

NYF: A lot is made of the "chemistry" on winning teams. Could you talk a little about the camaraderie on this year's St. Lucie squad and how that affected the teams performance?

Peterson: This year's team was outstanding. In previous years we played together, we've made the playoffs for the past three years, starting from Brooklyn, Capital City, and St. Lucie. We've also won two of the three years. We knew as a team what we had to do in order to win in St. Lucie. We came together as a team, like brothers, and everyone supported each other. We all hung out together, before and after games, and built a great relationship with each other.

NYF: Do you have any particular music you listen to pre-game when you are pitching to get yourself pumped?

Peterson: I have a wide variety of music I listen to. Some days its rap, country or techno.

NYF: Have the Mets communicated to you a time table for your moving through the system? What are your own expectations? Have you been invited to ML Spring Training for 2004?

Peterson: The Mets have said nothing to me about how long or when I will move through the system. The Mets decide when they feel that you are ready to advance to a higher level. I expect to start off in Binghamton in April and be in Norfolk right after All Star break. I have not received an invitation to ML Spring Training for 2004, but would love to be invited.

NYF: Could you discuss the difference between the hitters in the Florida State League and in AA and the AFL? You seemed to struggle a little with your control at the higher levels, what do you think caused that?

Peterson: The hitters in the Florida State League have a wider zone and have the tendency to swing at bad pitches in the dirt. The hitters in AA have a smaller zone and are able to recognize pitches and be more selective of balls and strikes. In the AFL these hitters are some of the best hitters in other organizations. They are able to drive the ball to opposite fields and make you pay for mistake pitches. I struggled a little with my control at the higher level because I was trying to do too much instead of trusting my stuff that got me there in the first place.

NYF: The first playoff game you won this year you were clearly throwing as well as you had all year. Did you feel that way too? Did you (and do you generally) know when you're warming up that you have that kind of groove going?

Peterson: Yes. I felt that the two playoff games I pitched in were two of my best games all year. I had lots of momemtum going into these games and a lot of confidence in myself. Generally speaking, I can never predict what my game will be like according to my warmup.

NYF: A number of people have singled out St. Lucie catcher Joe Hietpas for his defensive ability. Could you talk a little about what differences a good catcher makes in how well a pitcher pitches in a given game?

Peterson: Knowing that you have a great defensive catcher behind the plate makes all the difference in a game. He remembers hitters, which takes some stress off of the pitcher, he knows what pitches to throw in certain counts, and he has a greater ability to throw out base runners.

NYF: Pitchers start getting to hit a little at AA and you had pretty good success this year going 2-2. Do pitchers work on their hitting before they get to AA? Were you a good hitter in high school? Is hitting a part of your game that you are generally good at?

Peterson: Pitchers do take BP in St. Lucie the day after they pitch. I considered myself a pretty decent hitter in high school. I tend to get lucky and put the bat on the ball. With a little bit of work, I could become pretty good at it again.

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