Q&A with Aaron Hathaway

NYFansonly.com recently sat down with the Mets highest drafted position player in the draft, 4th round pick Aaron Hathaway, and talked a little about catching, his hitting philosophy at the plate, and the one event in his life that he remembers every at bat at the plate.

NYF: You are wearing number 13. Does that have a special meaning to you, because I know Tony Tijerina wore that number in the beginning of the year, and then switched.

Aaron Hathaway: I have worn it since I was about 7 or 8 years old. My father wore it when he played and it kind of always has been my number. I came here and was number 10 and my manager did not really care if he switched so he let me have the number.

NYF: I was reading that several scouts projected you to go to the third or even second round. Did you hear those reports before the draft and did slipping to the fourth round disappoint you?

Aaron Hathaway: I had a slow start to my year in college so I knew I was going to slide a little bit, however in the end I was just glad to be drafted in any round for that matter.

NYF: Did you expect the Mets to draft you and did any other teams show serious interest in you?

Aaron Hathaway: It is interesting. Five or six other teams showed serious interest in me throughout the process and I thought I would go to one of those teams. The Mets kind of stood in the background and for them to all of a sudden jump up on draft day and draft me it was sort of a surprise. It was very interesting to get a call from the Mets when you are expecting other teams to draft you.

NYF: You are just a tremendous defensive catcher. While in college you were named "Top Throwing Catcher" and "Best Defensive Catcher" in the Pac-10 by Baseball America. You threw out 21 of the 40 would-be base stealers during your junior year and so far this year you have thrown out a league best 50% (10-20).

Aaron Hathaway: Going into college I had been a catcher for about 2-3 years so I had to work hard on receiving and blocking. I had always had a decent arm because I used to play middle infield so I can get rid of the ball quickly so that really helps. I had to work really hard in college to get my defensive skills solid. I focused myself pretty much on that in college so I have improved a lot. I take lots of pride in my defensive skills so I have really worked hard on that in college.

NYF: Can you describe your offensive philosophy a little bit?

Aaron Hathaway: Well I am not the biggest guy so I don't go for the home run all the time but I do like to go gap to gap, jump on the fastball early.

NYF: Just to expand on that question. Being a catcher does that make it a little easier at the plate possibly knowing what the other catcher might be thinking?

Aaron Hathaway: Definitely, being a catcher I know how other catcher call pitches, for example after an inside fastball they will most likely call for an off-speed pitch away. So I just try to think as a catcher at the plate in terms of what they will throw on certain counts, and decide where I want to put the ball in play.

NYF: Is it hard coming into a brand new clubhouse, with a whole new pitching staff, and having to learn what each pitcher throws, what they like to throw, what their best pitch is and having to learn all that in just one week or so.

Aaron Hathaway: Yes, it is a real challenge but as long as you get it under control and organize when you will meet with certain pitchers and understand what they throw and what they like to throw, and how they like to get people out, and organize them in a way that you can meet one on one with them personally it will make it a little easier.

NYF: In high school besides baseball, you were an all state Quarterback, punter, kicker and defensive end. You also were captain of your basketball team and team MVP. What couldn't you do?

Aaron Hathaway: [Laughing] I pretty much did it all. In middle school I did track, I played soccer up to my sophomore year in high school. I kind of did it all. I did not really have a preference on one. Baseball was always a favorite and so was football, however the deciding factor was baseball because of my size. I liked football a lot and also had football scholarship offers for the Division I level, but I just decided to focus on baseball.

NYF: What has been your experience in Brooklyn so far?

Aaron Hathaway: I came from a pretty small town so it is kind of overwhelming and intimidating at times, but the fans are awesome and the atmosphere at the park is great. Playing in front of 8,000 fans each night is definitely a great feeling.

NYF: Did you have a catcher you admired growing up and someone you modeled yourself after?

Aaron Hathaway: I have always liked how Pudge Rodriguez catchers. He is known for his defense as well as his offense and Mike Matheny is good as well. Basically the guys that take pride in blocking and receiving. I like defensive catchers a lot and I think they get overlooked by many.

NYF: I noticed when you go to the plate you write something with your bat by the third base line. Could you tell us what that means?

Aaron Hathaway: One of my best friends I grew up with got hit by a train in London my freshman year and was killed. He just entered the navy and was his way to Iraq. That was one of the hardest things I had to go through. So my freshman year I started that routine of writing his initials before every at bat, and I dedicated my season to him, and have bee doing that ever since. Then I got engaged so now I write both his initials and my fiance initials before each at bat.

NYF: Who do you credit most for your development as a catcher?

Aaron Hathaway: My college catching coach, Joe Ross. He pretty much taught me how to catch.

NYF: Does it help having a manager who was a catcher himself?

Aaron Hathaway: Tony and I have gone on the side just the two of us and he has given me an inside scoop on catching. It is a little bit different catching college as compared to the pro level. You have a little bit of better pitching, they can locate better, they have better control and it is difference. He is really explaining that to me now and I am currently working on this right now as far as changing stuff. I am currently in a little transition period but I'll be fine in a week or so.

We would like to thank Aaron Hathaway for taking the time to talk with NYFansonly.com and wish him the best of luck on his start in professional baseball.

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