Scott Kazmir: Adjusting to the Eastern League

Scott Kazmir was recently promoted to AA Binghamton, the highest level he has played at in his young career. Experts and players often say that the biggest jump in the minors is from A to AA. "I haven't been able to see that yet after only one start" remarked Kazmir, after he pitched six innings allowing two earned runs while striking out seven. "The hitters are a lot more disciplined. I could tell that right away."

The discipline showed as Scott Kazmir walked five in his AA debut; however nerves may have also contributed to that number. No one seems to doubt that his next outing will be even better.

If you're a Met fan who is unaware of Scott Kazmir, you are clearly not getting the paper delivered nor the internet provided to whatever rock you are currently living under. There is very little that hasn't already been said, written, rumored, or talked about when it comes to the 20 year old phoneme who is two years removed from high school and has the world in the palm of his hand. He is the Mets number one pitching prospect and the jewel in the crown of an organization that has loaded up on young flame throwers.

The B-Mets entered the All-Star Break in first place and one of the main reasons for their success is the excellent chemistry that exists in the clubhouse and the winning attitude of its members. Though Kazmir spent the first half of the season in the Florida State League and though he is the only player on the roster who can't get a beer after the game, the clubhouse chemistry has not been affected and Kazmir is fitting in beautifully. "Basically the whole core of people up here was in St. Lucie with me last year, so I had a bunch buddies up here already." Though he is more than a year and a half younger than any of his teammates, he is as well respected for his abilities as any member of this first place team. Kazmir hasn't lost touch with his old friends in St. Lucie either. "I call them all the time. I check the stats. I know how they're doing."

Kazmir had an amazing high school career. In his senior year, he pitched 75 innings striking out 175 and posting a minute 0.37 ERA. For his efforts he was named High School Player of the Year by Baseball America., however, thoughts of the pros did not enter his head right away. "When you're still in school, it seems so far fetched that you don't really think about it." Despite throwing in the 90's in his sophomore year, Kazmir remained humble. Thoughts of the draft, huge signing bonuses, and stardom never entered his mind. "I never thought it could happen to me. Turning pro never entered my mind until I was a senior."

It did happen to him and in 2002 he reported to the Brooklyn Cyclones. "Everything was just so new to me. I didn't know what to expect." He only pitched 18 innings at Brooklyn but he was impressive, allowing just one earned run while striking out 34. In 2003, Kazmir led the minor leagues with his 11.94 SO/9 IP. This year, Kazmir was invited to the Big League camp and the not so harsh reality of being a pro-ball player finally sunk in. "It really hit me, when I stepped in to the clubhouse and Mike Piazza's locker was across from mine and there he was surrounded by reporters." Kazmir did not let the opportunity go to waste. "I just tried to be like a sponge. Just getting a chance to do drills with those guys was amazing. I tried to talk to them and get as much as I could out of them."

There is a lot a young left hander can learn from the Mets pitchers. Future Halll of Famers Tom Glavine and John Franco are two of the smartest and craftiest pitchers in the game and Al Leiter and Mike Stanton also have a plethora of experience and wisdom to offer a young prospect. "I mostly hung around Franco and Stanton and tried to get from them what I could." Kazmir already has ample confidence and talent but the ability to pick up on some of the finer points of the game from two veterans was not lost on him. "We talked about holding on runners and other little things." Because of Kazmir's natural ability it is easy to forget that he is learning professional fundamentals for the first time.

Kazmir started off this year slowly and predictably the criticism began. "I just say stop before I hear it, because I don't want to get involved in all that. That's just how New York media is." As a 20 year old, he still gets the most and probably the toughest criticism from his parents. "I hear it from my parents all the time but I just try and go out there and do the best I can and let everything else take care of itself." Many analysts thought that the Mets should hype him up and trade him as quickly as possible. Kazmir responded well and did not let the criticism bother him. "You got to take it with a grain of salt. You can't really do anything about it."

The Mets for their part seemed to have made the right move when they labeled Kazmir "untouchable". It certainly made Kazmir feel better. "It felt good when Wilpon said I wasn't going to get traded. That was reassuring." The Mets are pinning their hopes on this young southpaw and figure him to be a mainstay in their rotation for years to come.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories