Offseason Q&A with Jay Caligiuri

InsidePitchMagazine.com sits down with St. Lucie 1B/3B Jay Caligiuri for an offseason Q&A session to get a scouting report on himself, how he's progressing after the foot injury that caused him to miss the entire 2003 season, what his goals are for the 2005 season, which Mets' prospects impress him the most, and much more!

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Jay, describe your injury two years ago that forced you to miss the entire 2003 season.

Jay Caligiuri: I had a broken foot that spring. I tried to go on it after Spring Training that year, but couldn't even walk. I had the surgery to repair the bone and I was in a cast for about six months. It was tough, missing the entire year like that, but I think last year was successful for me and I am really looking forward to this coming year.

Inside Pitch: Missing an entire year like that, what were your goals heading into the season last year?

Caligiuri: Well my thought process heading into the season last year was just to stay healthy for the whole year and let my natural ability take over. We really only have one opportunity to do this [play baseball professionally] so I wanted to go out there, give it my best, stay healthy, and let everything fall where it may. And I think I did pretty well after missing a year.

Inside Pitch: You're not a big guy at all, but yet you generate so much power. How is it you're not even close to the size of Alhaji Turay or Shawn Bowman, but yet you can generate so much power? How big are you anyway?

Caligiuri: No, I'm not that big. I'm 6'0" and maybe 200 lbs. But what I lack in size I make up with my swing. I have a short, compact swing with very good bat speed. When I swing, I swing as hard as I can. I also have a lot of power in my legs too. I've been working really hard down here [St. Lucie] with Nitro, doing a lot of leg work. I think my power comes from that and so I am always working my legs extremely hard.

Inside Pitch: You just said you swing as hard as you can. Are you up there swinging for the fences and looking to hit the big home run?

Caligiuri: While I do swing as hard as I can, I am swinging to make contact and stay under control. I'm a corner guy though so I'm not looking to dump a ball over the second baseman's head or anything. I am looking to drive the ball to the left and right center gaps. I am never trying to do too much [though].

Inside Pitch: You grew up playing third base but have been playing both third and first base. Do you have a preference playing either position?

Caligiuri: Well I played third base all throughout high school and college, so I am more of natural third baseman. But the Mets have me playing first base as well and I'm fine over there too. Seriously, anywhere I can play to get in the lineup I'm happy with. The more positions you play, the more value you have. First base is still a learning process for me but I play the position pretty well. To answer your question, no, I don't have a preference.

Inside Pitch: Do you know where you'll start the year off next season? Do you have any sort of goals in mind for next season?

Caligiuri: I'm guessing I'll be in Binghamton next year. My goal is to definitely make that club, but you can't take anything for granted. You can't really set any sort of number goals for yourself out there because it just puts unneeded pressure on yourself. My focus next season is to work on my opposite field hitting. Last year I relied a lot more on the inner half of the plate and I want to go the other way more next year to open more holes for me. I figure if I do that than the numbers will be there.

Inside Pitch: You turn 25 years old in March and you're getting to the levels in the minor leagues where you have to start thinking about making it to Shea Stadium. Have you given yourself any sort of timetable of reaching the Majors?

Caligiuri: Well the Mets look good at the corners next year with David Wright and Doug Mientkiewicz. But my goal is to make it to the Major Leagues in the next year or two. I did not sign on to play minor league baseball. We're all down here in the minors to make it to the Majors. I got called up to Norfolk last year for a little bit at the end of the year and I think that just added more hunger for reaching the Majors soon.

Inside Pitch: Who would you say, among the positional players you've seen in the Mets' farm system, have the highest upside?

Caligiuri: Well it has been great watching a lot of guys down here working out early. A guy like Alhaji Turay is somebody to keep an eye on. His power is unreal and he's religious in the weight room. A guy like Shawn Bowman is real impressive too. He's only 20 years and the power he generates is very impressive. I can't come close to them in the power department. It is really amazing what those two guys can do on a baseball field.

Inside Pitch: What about the pitchers? Which pitcher has impressed you the most among the Mets' pitching prospects?

Caligiuri: Blake McGinley is one of the best relief pitchers I've ever seen. You're just baffled by the way he makes hitters look up there and he only throws 88-89 MPH with his fastball. He has awesome off-speed pitches and his command is excellent. He's a guy that is really impressive on the mound.

Inside Pitch: Who is one guy in the Mets' farm system that you think is a "sleeper"? You know, somebody that gets continually overlooked that you believe has a very good chance of reaching the Majors and contributing?

Caligiuri: Corey Ragsdale is a guy that defensively, makes Big League plays already. I know he had a lot of errors last year, but the guy gets to so many balls because of his athleticism that the errors come while making the difficult plays. He gets to so many balls that other shortstops would let go into the outfield or not even attempt to throw out the runner. He had decent numbers last year, nothing eye opening, but if he could just be an adequate hitter, he'll make the Major Leagues for sure. He just needs to put up decent numbers to be a very good player in the Majors.

Inside Pitch: Jay, give us a scouting report on yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Who would you say your game compares to at the Major League level?

Caligiuri: I'd say my defensive game is pretty sound. I have a lot of confidence in the field [defensively]. I have a lot of hit and pop, meaning a lot of people don't expect the ball to come off the bat the way it does so it surprises a lot of the fielders. I think I am pretty good at putting the ball in play a lot, you know, I'm able to move runners over and stuff like that. I struck out more than I wanted to last season and right now, I am looking to refine my two-strike hitting. I really don't have that much speed, but I'm a corner guy and a lot of corner guys don't have that much speed. I would like to think that I compare to a Jeff Bagwell or Kevin Millar type. I think Millar's approach at the plate and the way he plays the game hard is similar to my game.

InsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Jay Caligiuri for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. We'll be tracking Jay's progress throughout the 2005 season and will be checking in on him from time to time next year.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Jay, describe your injury two years ago that forced you to miss the entire 2003 season.
\r\n
\r\nJay Caligiuri: I had a broken foot that spring. I tried to go on it after Spring Training that year, but couldn't even walk. I had the surgery to repair the bone and I was in a cast for about six months. It was tough, missing the entire year like that, but I think last year was successful for me and I am really looking forward to this coming year.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Missing an entire year like that, what were your goals heading into the season last year?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: Well my thought process heading into the season last year was just to stay healthy for the whole year and let my natural ability take over. We really only have one opportunity to do this [play baseball professionally] so I wanted to go out there, give it my best, stay healthy, and let everything fall where it may. And I think I did pretty well after missing a year.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You're not a big guy at all, but yet you generate so much power. How is it you're not even close to the size of Alhaji Turay or Shawn Bowman, but yet you can generate so much power? How big are you anyway?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: No, I'm not that big. I'm 6'0\" and maybe 200 lbs. But what I lack in size I make up with my swing. I have a short, compact swing with very good bat speed. When I swing, I swing as hard as I can. I also have a lot of power in my legs too. I've been working really hard down here [St. Lucie] with Nitro, doing a lot of leg work. I think my power comes from that and so I am always working my legs extremely hard.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You just said you swing as hard as you can. Are you up there swinging for the fences and looking to hit the big home run?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: While I do swing as hard as I can, I am swinging to make contact and stay under control. I'm a corner guy though so I'm not looking to dump a ball over the second baseman's head or anything. I am looking to drive the ball to the left and right center gaps. I am never trying to do too much [though].
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You grew up playing third base but have been playing both third and first base. Do you have a preference playing either position?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: Well I played third base all throughout high school and college, so I am more of natural third baseman. But the Mets have me playing first base as well and I'm fine over there too. Seriously, anywhere I can play to get in the lineup I'm happy with. The more positions you play, the more value you have. First base is still a learning process for me but I play the position pretty well. To answer your question, no, I don't have a preference.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you know where you'll start the year off next season? Do you have any sort of goals in mind for next season?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: I'm guessing I'll be in Binghamton next year. My goal is to definitely make that club, but you can't take anything for granted. You can't really set any sort of number goals for yourself out there because it just puts unneeded pressure on yourself. My focus next season is to work on my opposite field hitting. Last year I relied a lot more on the inner half of the plate and I want to go the other way more next year to open more holes for me. I figure if I do that than the numbers will be there.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You turn 25 years old in March and you're getting to the levels in the minor leagues where you have to start thinking about making it to Shea Stadium. Have you given yourself any sort of timetable of reaching the Majors?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: Well the Mets look good at the corners next year with David Wright and Doug Mientkiewicz. But my goal is to make it to the Major Leagues in the next year or two. I did not sign on to play minor league baseball. We're all down here in the minors to make it to the Majors. I got called up to Norfolk last year for a little bit at the end of the year and I think that just added more hunger for reaching the Majors soon.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who would you say, among the positional players you've seen in the Mets' farm system, have the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: Well it has been great watching a lot of guys down here working out early. A guy like Alhaji Turay is somebody to keep an eye on. His power is unreal and he's religious in the weight room. A guy like Shawn Bowman is real impressive too. He's only 20 years and the power he generates is very impressive. I can't come close to them in the power department. It is really amazing what those two guys can do on a baseball field.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What about the pitchers? Which pitcher has impressed you the most among the Mets' pitching prospects?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: Blake McGinley is one of the best relief pitchers I've ever seen. You're just baffled by the way he makes hitters look up there and he only throws 88-89 MPH with his fastball. He has awesome off-speed pitches and his command is excellent. He's a guy that is really impressive on the mound.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who is one guy in the Mets' farm system that you think is a \"sleeper\"? You know, somebody that gets continually overlooked that you believe has a very good chance of reaching the Majors and contributing?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: Corey Ragsdale is a guy that defensively, makes Big League plays already. I know he had a lot of errors last year, but the guy gets to so many balls because of his athleticism that the errors come while making the difficult plays. He gets to so many balls that other shortstops would let go into the outfield or not even attempt to throw out the runner. He had decent numbers last year, nothing eye opening, but if he could just be an adequate hitter, he'll make the Major Leagues for sure. He just needs to put up decent numbers to be a very good player in the Majors.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Jay, give us a scouting report on yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Who would you say your game compares to at the Major League level?
\r\n
\r\nCaligiuri: I'd say my defensive game is pretty sound. I have a lot of confidence in the field [defensively]. I have a lot of hit and pop, meaning a lot of people don't expect the ball to come off the bat the way it does so it surprises a lot of the fielders. I think I am pretty good at putting the ball in play a lot, you know, I'm able to move runners over and stuff like that. I struck out more than I wanted to last season and right now, I am looking to refine my two-strike hitting. I really don't have that much speed, but I'm a corner guy and a lot of corner guys don't have that much speed. I would like to think that I compare to a Jeff Bagwell or Kevin Millar type. I think Millar's approach at the plate and the way he plays the game hard is similar to my game.
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Jay Caligiuri for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. We'll be tracking Jay's progress throughout the 2005 season and will be checking in on him from time to time next year.
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