Offseason Q&A with Kevin Deaton

InsidePitchMagazine.com sits down with St. Lucie starting pitcher, Kevin Deaton, for an offseason Q&A session to find out about his injury last year, what he thought of the Arizona Fall League, to get a scouting report on himself, which prospects have the highest upside, who the biggest "sleeper" is, and much more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: You missed a good amount of starts last season. Can you please describe to us the extent of your injury last year?

Kevin Deaton: It wasn't anything too serious. I had a little fatigue and a slight strain in the rotator cuff of my pitching shoulder and the Mets decided to shut me down a little early to rest it. I was fine by the time the Arizona Fall League started up and I'm more than ready to go now.

Inside Pitch: You mentioned the Arizona Fall League. I heard reports that you were throwing very well there but the ERA didn't really support those reports. What happened in the AFL?

Deaton: Yeah, I was on a strict pitch count for the first couple of weeks and I had a rough start in my first outing. I gave up five runs in my first inning and only got one out so that skewed my ERA quite a bit. I hadn't pitched in weeks so it was a rough start coming back. But I had a great time in Arizona and I got in some good innings against great competition. In my last start, I think I only gave up two hits and zero runs in 4 2/3 innings so I ended on a high note. I am just taking those numbers in stride. It is not like I'm going to face too many lineups like that this coming year. The talent in the Arizona Fall League is unreal. I just want to take the momentum I built up towards the end in Arizona and keep moving.

Inside Pitch: What are your goals for next season? Do you have any idea where you'll begin the 2005 season? Do you think you'll start in AA-Binghamton?

Deaton: I sure hope so. Like I said, there aren't too many lineups next season like the ones I faced in Arizona. It is going to be a lot of fun having the confidence I gained in the AFL and I'm hoping they [the Mets] give me a shot in Binghamton. Hopefully the Mets and I are on the same page. My goal is always the same. I want to pitch every fifth day, never miss a start, and give my team a chance to win every night, wherever I'm pitching. That's my ultimate goal every time I'm on the mound, to give my team a chance to win.

Inside Pitch: Your story is a unique one. You turned down a full scholarship to play football for the University of Florida, one of the country's elite football programs, to sign a free agent deal with the Mets. What made you decide to do that? And do you think that had any influence on not being drafted that year?

Deaton: Well, I never played football until my sophomore year of high school. The father of the girl I was dating at the time, which turns out to be my wife now, told me that if I was going to date his daughter that I was going to have to play football. My heart was never into football and my ultimate goal was to play pro baseball. I was disappointed that I was not drafted, but the Mets gave me an opportunity. The scholarship I was offered by the University of Florida was worth a good deal of money and I guess a lot of the scouts thought that I might not be worth the money it would take to get out of the scholarship, at least not enough to turn down a football program like the Gators. But my heart was always in baseball.

Inside Pitch: Tell us a little bit about your repertoire. What type of pitches do you throw and at what speeds?

Deaton: I throw a sinker. That's a pitch I throw a lot in fastball counts and that's about 89-91 MPH. I get a lot of movement on that pitch and get a lot of ground balls with it. I have a 4-seam fastball that I throw in to lefties and that's around 91-92 MPH. I have a changeup that averages 78-81 MPH, a curveball around 74 MPH, and a slider at 82-83 MPH. I pitch backwards, setting up my fastball with my breaking stuff.

Inside Pitch: Who would you say your game compares to at the Major League level?

Deaton: I don't really know who my game compares to, but Greg Maddux is a pitcher that I've always looked up to. He's a guy that doesn't get a ton of strikeouts, but works hard and gets a lot of wins.

Inside Pitch: Of the positional prospects currently in the Mets' farm sytem, who, in your opinion, has the highest upside?

Deaton: Aarom Baldiris has one of the best chances to make it of anybody I've played with. He just does everything well. He's so solid in the field and you know he's going to hit over .300 every year. He makes all the plays he needs to and just gets the job done. He's been working out at second base down here [St. Lucie], but I'm not sure where he's going to wind up. The thing is, the Mets have David Wright at third base for the next 10-20 years so Baldiris is going to probably have to move over to second base. You want that guy in that lineup so it only makes sense to move him over.

Inside Pitch: Among the pitching prospects in the Mets' system, who would you say has the highest upside?

Deaton: There's no doubt it has got to be Yusmeiro Petit. There's nothing else to say except that he's special. He's really a magician out there and nobody knows what he's throwing. It's a gift from God, really! He just goes out there and does his job, doesn't say a word about it, and wins ball games. He's fun to watch out there.

Inside Pitch: Who do you think is the biggest "sleeper" among the Mets' pitching prospects? Is there somebody that is going to have a succesful Major League career that people are currently overlooking?

Deaton: That's me!!! I mean, I don't do anything special. I don't have electric stuff. And nobody gives me a chance of making it. But all I do is keep plugging along and work really hard. I believe I battle out there and give my team a great chance to win every night. But there's also Joe Hietpas. All he is, is a baseball guy. He just comes to the park everyday and gives you what he's got. Joe is a stand up guy and is one of the best teammates you could ever have. He is easily one of the best catchers around. It is hard to put it into words. Pedro Martinez really likes him and calls him "Sneaky Joe" because he has a great presences behind the plate and he's great to work with. Let me put it this way. In the Arizona Fall League, our staff ERA was about 2.00 with him catching, and like a 6.00 ERA when he wasn't catching. That guy could hit .125 the rest of his life and still have a 10-year career in the Major Leagues.

InsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Kevin Deaton for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. We'll be checking in with Kevin throughout the 2005 season.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: You missed a good amount of starts last season. Can you please describe to us the extent of your injury last year?
\r\n
\r\nKevin Deaton: It wasn't anything too serious. I had a little fatigue and a slight strain in the rotator cuff of my pitching shoulder and the Mets decided to shut me down a little early to rest it. I was fine by the time the Arizona Fall League started up and I'm more than ready to go now.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: You mentioned the Arizona Fall League. I heard reports that you were throwing very well there but the ERA didn't really support those reports. What happened in the AFL?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: Yeah, I was on a strict pitch count for the first couple of weeks and I had a rough start in my first outing. I gave up five runs in my first inning and only got one out so that skewed my ERA quite a bit. I hadn't pitched in weeks so it was a rough start coming back. But I had a great time in Arizona and I got in some good innings against great competition. In my last start, I think I only gave up two hits and zero runs in 4 2/3 innings so I ended on a high note. I am just taking those numbers in stride. It is not like I'm going to face too many lineups like that this coming year. The talent in the Arizona Fall League is unreal. I just want to take the momentum I built up towards the end in Arizona and keep moving.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What are your goals for next season? Do you have any idea where you'll begin the 2005 season? Do you think you'll start in AA-Binghamton?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: I sure hope so. Like I said, there aren't too many lineups next season like the ones I faced in Arizona. It is going to be a lot of fun having the confidence I gained in the AFL and I'm hoping they [the Mets] give me a shot in Binghamton. Hopefully the Mets and I are on the same page. My goal is always the same. I want to pitch every fifth day, never miss a start, and give my team a chance to win every night, wherever I'm pitching. That's my ultimate goal every time I'm on the mound, to give my team a chance to win.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Your story is a unique one. You turned down a full scholarship to play football for the University of Florida, one of the country's elite football programs, to sign a free agent deal with the Mets. What made you decide to do that? And do you think that had any influence on not being drafted that year?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: Well, I never played football until my sophomore year of high school. The father of the girl I was dating at the time, which turns out to be my wife now, told me that if I was going to date his daughter that I was going to have to play football. My heart was never into football and my ultimate goal was to play pro baseball. I was disappointed that I was not drafted, but the Mets gave me an opportunity. The scholarship I was offered by the University of Florida was worth a good deal of money and I guess a lot of the scouts thought that I might not be worth the money it would take to get out of the scholarship, at least not enough to turn down a football program like the Gators. But my heart was always in baseball.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Tell us a little bit about your repertoire. What type of pitches do you throw and at what speeds?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: I throw a sinker. That's a pitch I throw a lot in fastball counts and that's about 89-91 MPH. I get a lot of movement on that pitch and get a lot of ground balls with it. I have a 4-seam fastball that I throw in to lefties and that's around 91-92 MPH. I have a changeup that averages 78-81 MPH, a curveball around 74 MPH, and a slider at 82-83 MPH. I pitch backwards, setting up my fastball with my breaking stuff.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who would you say your game compares to at the Major League level?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: I don't really know who my game compares to, but Greg Maddux is a pitcher that I've always looked up to. He's a guy that doesn't get a ton of strikeouts, but works hard and gets a lot of wins.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Of the positional prospects currently in the Mets' farm sytem, who, in your opinion, has the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: Aarom Baldiris has one of the best chances to make it of anybody I've played with. He just does everything well. He's so solid in the field and you know he's going to hit over .300 every year. He makes all the plays he needs to and just gets the job done. He's been working out at second base down here [St. Lucie], but I'm not sure where he's going to wind up. The thing is, the Mets have David Wright at third base for the next 10-20 years so Baldiris is going to probably have to move over to second base. You want that guy in that lineup so it only makes sense to move him over.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Among the pitching prospects in the Mets' system, who would you say has the highest upside?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: There's no doubt it has got to be Yusmeiro Petit. There's nothing else to say except that he's special. He's really a magician out there and nobody knows what he's throwing. It's a gift from God, really! He just goes out there and does his job, doesn't say a word about it, and wins ball games. He's fun to watch out there.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Who do you think is the biggest \"sleeper\" among the Mets' pitching prospects? Is there somebody that is going to have a succesful Major League career that people are currently overlooking?
\r\n
\r\nDeaton: That's me!!! I mean, I don't do anything special. I don't have electric stuff. And nobody gives me a chance of making it. But all I do is keep plugging along and work really hard. I believe I battle out there and give my team a great chance to win every night. But there's also Joe Hietpas. All he is, is a baseball guy. He just comes to the park everyday and gives you what he's got. Joe is a stand up guy and is one of the best teammates you could ever have. He is easily one of the best catchers around. It is hard to put it into words. Pedro Martinez really likes him and calls him \"Sneaky Joe\" because he has a great presences behind the plate and he's great to work with. Let me put it this way. In the Arizona Fall League, our staff ERA was about 2.00 with him catching, and like a 6.00 ERA when he wasn't catching. That guy could hit .125 the rest of his life and still have a 10-year career in the Major Leagues.
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com would like to thank Kevin Deaton for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. We'll be checking in with Kevin throughout the 2005 season.
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