Q&A with Gaby Hernandez

RHP Gaby Hernandez, the Mets third round draft pick in 2004, sits down with NYfansonly.com for a Q&A session to talk about his first professional season, what his repertoire is like, which of his GCL teammates impressed him the most, which players impressed him at the Instructional League, and a whole lot more!

NYF: Tell us a little bit about your high school career.

Gaby Hernandez: I started out at a local public high school and my parents decided to transfer me to Belen Jesuit. That's where I came out of my shell and matured as a player and an athlete. We lost in the state championship last year. I was First Team All-State as a junior and senior. I was 6-4 with like a 2.00 ERA my junior year and went 9-3 with a 1.97 ERA as a senior.

NYF: Were you expecting to be drafted by the Mets? What other teams had expressed interest in you prior to last year's draft?

Hernandez: I guess about half of the teams were looking at me. I remember teams like the Marlins, Giants, Mets, Angels, Cubs, Tigers, Braves and Yankees, among others, had expressed a lot of interest. I really thought though that it was going to be between the Mets, Giants, and Yankees that would select me. Those three clubs seemed to have the most interest. I really didn't know where I would be drafted and in which round. I don't make any high expectations with stuff like that. My family and I listened to the draft but we didn't celebrate when I was selected. We knew that meant I really needed to start working hard.

NYF: Tell us what is was like pitching for the GCL Mets last year.

Hernandez: I was thrilled. I got to play closer to home and it was a great learning experience for me. I was just listening to the coaches and I'm a better pitcher because of it. "Nemo" (Randy Niemann) helped fix my mechanics and really helped me with my curveball. My curve was a little loopy, somewhere around 70-71 MPH and he helped me get a sharper break to it and I was able to throw it harder. I got it up to 75-76 MPH and that was great.

NYF: Since you've opened that door, tell us a little bit about your repertoire. Give us a scouting report on yourself.

Hernandez: I throw a 4-seam fastball and a 2-seam fastball. My 4-seamer is between 90-93 MPH and I can get it up to 94 MPH at times. I throw it inside to righties and away from the lefties. Like I said, I have a curveball in the 75-76 MPH and its a pitch I am very comfortable with. I've been throwing it since the 8th grade. I have a really good changeup. I can throw it to anybody and I can throw it anywhere. It's about 79-81 MPH and the guys in the rookie league couldn't hit it.

NYF: What would you say is your strongest asset on the mound?

Hernandez: I'd have to say my competitiveness and my attitude on the mound makes me better than most. That and my ability to locate my pitches well are my strongest assets right now.

NYF: What do you think you need to work on the most?

Hernandez: (laughing). Lots of things. I'd like to get more movement on my 2-seamer. I want to learn how to start outside with the 2-seamer and have it break back in, kind of like how Greg Maddux does. I also would like to get more aggressive with my changeup. You know, throw it 1-0 and stuff like that to keep the hitters off balance.

NYF: What are your goals for next season? Do you have any sort of specific numbers in mind? Have you thought of a number of wins you are shooting for?

Hernandez: I want to make the Hagerstown club and finish the year in high-A at St. Lucie. I want to keep my ERA under 2.00. That would be awesome to do. I am not sure about how many games I could win. I have never played this much before. I just don't want to lose too much. I want to maintain my goals and everything else will fall into place. I just want to make sure I show up in good shape in Spring Training.

NYF: Did you have a favorite team growing up? Who was your favorite player?

Hernandez: My favorite team was obviously the Marins but I also rooted for the Red Sox. I was thrilled when they won last year. As far as a favorite player, I really looked up to Roger Clemens and his work habits. That's something I am looking to do and hopefully I can become as good as him.

NYF: You got to Brooklyn for a short period. What was that like?

Hernandez: Man, I was nervous as hell in my first outing for the Cyclones. I did well but I was just throwing on pure adrenaline. I was thrilled to be there even though I didn't get to play much and sat in the bullpen most of the time. It was really fun and it's a great place to play.

NYF: What one player impressed you the most on the GCL team last year?

Hernandez: Jesus Flores, definitely Flores. He has the ability to block anything and throw out any runner. He hits for power. He hits the other way. He's just a complete player. I've never seen a catcher like him anywhere in the Major Leagues. He's just awesome and is athletic in everything he does. Mike Carp and Nick Evans were pretty good too. They both defend well and hit for power. Those guys just hustle, hustle, hustle. We had a good team last year.

NYF: Which pitchers on the GCL team last year impressed you the most?

Hernandez: Chuck Smith and Blake Eager were great. Smith was lights out for two or three innings every time he went out there. He'd go inside and outside and would just get outs. He would locate every pitch and is very polished. He throws a fastball around 90-91 MPH, a great 12-6 curveball, and his changeup is his out pitch. He makes it look like his fastball. Eager was one of the hardest workers on and off the field. He has the attitude that he wants to strike you out. He has great location of his pitches. He throws a fastball, curveball, and changeup and has great command. He looked real good in the Instructional League too.

NYF: Speaking of the Instructional League, which one player stood out in your mind as the player to watch out for?

Hernandez: Man, Lastings Milledge is awesome. That guy is unreal. I never got to pitch to him, but that guy can do it all. He gets on base, hits for power, and is awesome in the outfield. He's really good. Wilson Batista was another guy that impressed me. He's not big but he has some power. He's really quick and it seemed like he was going 3-4 with a couple of doubles everyday. I like how he swings.

NYF: Were there any pitchers at the Instructional League that stood out?

Hernandez: Jesus Sanchez really improved, I know that. I don't think he gave up a run during the entire Instructional League. He made sure every pitch was right on the money. Marcelo Perez was throwing some hard sliders there. He was either getting a ton of ground outs or people were swinging right through it. He looked good too.

NYfansonly.com would like to thank Gaby Hernandez for taking the time to check in with us this offseason. Be sure to check back with NYF during the season as we'll check in with Gaby from time to time.

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