Q&A with Angel Pagan

Angel Pagan's stock is clearly on the rise. He is batting .305. He is tied for second in hits, he is 5th in runs scored, 4th in triples, and 3rd in stolen bases. A switch hitting outfielder with speed and the ability to play all three outfield positions, Pagan has made great improvements in a very short amount of time. Once considered just another fast outfielder who would probably never make it, Pagan now joins Prentice Redman and Victor Diaz as top outfielders in the Mets farm system.

Earlier this year Pagan had an 18 game hitting streak, a streak that he never needed his final at bat to continue, snapped when rain shortened the game to a mere five innings. Pagan didn't slow down though, and he started in the Eastern League All Star Game. Before the game I sat down with Pagan.

NYF: How did you end up with the Mets?

Pagan: In Puerto Rico, there is sort of like an All Star game where the best players from all the different Puerto Rican leagues play, and the Mets scouted me there.

NYF: Were you surprised to be drafted in the 4th round?

Pagan: They were projecting me as a first rounder but I guess I wasn't a good enough hitter for that.

NYF: Did you have any team that you were hoping to be drafted by?

Pagan: I just wanted to be a professional player. I didn't care for whom.

NYF: At what point in your life, did you think that you had the skills to be a professional?

Pagan: When I was 14 I set my goals. My brother couldn't make it as a pro so that really motivated me. I knew then that I wanted to be pro.

NYF: How much older is your brother than you?

Pagan: I'm 23 and he's 32.

NYF: Are you the only one from your family who is in the U.S.?

Pagan: Yeah, but my family comes sometimes to visit and watch me play.

NYF: And you go down every year for winter ball?

Pagan: Yeah, I have to go. It's my own home. It's a good experience because I learn a lot down there. When you play down there you play with a lot of veterans, guys who can teach you what they know.

NYF: You guys have a three game lead over New Hampshire and now you're playing them in a three game series. Is there any extra pressure on you guys this series?

Pagan: No, We're the ones in first place right now. We don't have to have any pressure on us. We've played these guys before and we've beaten them before. We know what they got and they know what we got and if we just got to keep playing the way we're playing we'll be fine.

NYF: Describe the amount of confidence in the clubhouse?

Pagan: There's a lot of confidence right now. Last year we played this team in the playoffs so we're very aware of how they play and we feel very good about our chances.

NYF: Do you think you'll face them again this year?

Pagan: I'm sure about that.

NYF: Are you as confident that you guys will be able to stay in first place?

Pagan: I'm positive. I'm playing 100% and I really hope this team succeeds because we got a good attitude, we play as a team. That's the way it's supposed to be. And I think that's pretty good. That's what we need to do if we are going to stay in first place.

NYF: This is by far your best year in pro-ball. What do you think has changed and made you a better hitter?

Pagan: I've been working hard in my country. One of the things I want most is to be protected by the Mets and during winter ball in Puerto Rico I put all my effort in to improving myself. I worked hard on hitting as a lefty and my base running and stuff like that and I think it's paying off. Hopefully I'll keep going and finish strong and the Mets will protect me or somebody else will pick me up.

NYF: How hard is it to learn to hit from the left side?

Pagan: It was tough. I had to put a lot of time. Most of the time I was hitting lefty. It got to the point where I even forgot about hitting righty. Every time I was in the field I was practicing my left handed swing and in winter ball I only batted from the left side of the plate.

NYF: Do you finally feel comfortable from the left side of the plate?

Pagan: Yeah, I feel very comfortable. I think I finally got the rhythm to it. I even feel better than righty right now.

NYF: Do you feel like you have more power from the left side?

Pagan: Yeah definitely.

NYF: You spent most of the time this year as a leftfielder. Do you miss playing centerfield at all?

Pagan: I like to play centerfield but I understand that if I want to go to the big leagues I have to be able to play all three of them. It's good to play all the positions here so that I can keep learning and be very versatile in the majors.

NYF: You had an 18 game hitting streak this year. At what point did you find out about the streak?

Pagan: I think at 15 games I found out about it. I didn't think much of it. I was just doing my job, just trying to help my team every day and I think I did a pretty good job of it.

NYF: When you did become aware of the streak, did it make you press at the plate or jinx you in anyway?

Pagan: No, no I had the attitude of ‘let's see how far I can go with this'.

NYF: What was the All Star experience like for you?

Pagan: It was good. It was really really good. I got to meet a lot of players that I didn't know. I made a lot of new friends. We had a lot of fun. That's what All Star games are all about. Make some friends and show what you got.

NYF: You played the whole game, right?

Pagan: Yeah.

NYF: Were you the only one who played the whole game?

Pagan: Three of us did. Bacani, Kevin West, and I all played nine innings.

NYF: That's pretty cool.

Pagan: This wasn't my first All Star Game either.

NYF: Tell us about the first one.

Pagan: It was when I was with Brooklyn in 2002. I played the whole game that time also.

NYF: How did you play?

Pagan: I think I was 1 for 3 with a walk.

NYF: So now you're batting .250 in the All Star game. That's not bad at all.

Pagan: Not bad at all.

NYF: You are a much better hitter with runners on base and an even better hitter than that when runners are in scoring position. Does your mentality change at the plate as the situation changes?

Pagan: Well, this is a simple game. You got to score more runs than the other team and my job is to bring in those runs so when I see runners on base I get juiced up because I know it's my chance to help the team.

NYF: When you're on the bases, do you look for a specific count to run on or does it depend on the pitcher?

Pagan: They'll never know when I'm going because I can run on any count. There are a lot of different factors. If I see the sign for a curveball, I know that that is a good pitch to run on.

NYF: Are there any catchers in the league that you are particularly wary of?

Pagan: The catcher doesn't matter too much. If you get a good jump on the pitcher the best catcher in the world won't have a chance.

NYF: Because of your speed do you look to bunt for hits?

Pagan: Right now, I'm not bunting too much. I'm really working on slapping the ball and getting base hits that way. I'm a very good bunter. I can lay one down and get a base hit but right now I'm focusing on hitting from the left side so that I can be better in the big leagues.

NYF: Has hitting second behind a guy like Lydon helped you?

Pagan: Oh yeah When he's on I get a lot of fastballs which makes my job as a hitter easier. He can steal second and third and right away you have a man in scoring position. The game could be 1-0 in the first inning.

NYF: Do you prefer hitting second over leading off?

Pagan: It don't matter to me. I was a leadoff hitter my whole career. Now I'm hitting second, third, sixth. It doesn't matter where they put me as long as I can do my job.

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