Q&A: Mets 17th round pick Stephen Puhl

The Mets drafted catcher Steven Puhl, another prospect with Major League bloodlines, in the 17th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of Saint Edwards University. Puhl sat down for a Q&A session to give some insight into his game, what his strengths and weaknesses are, if he was surprised the Mets drafted him, and more.

InsidePitchMagazine.com: Tell us what it was like when you heard the Mets drafted you.

Stephen Puhl: It's a wonderful feeling, it's the day I've been looking forward to for a long time. The funny thing is, I watched about the first ten rounds, then kind of took a break, went outside. I just wanted to get my mind off it because it's a tough day to go through. My younger brother came and watched with me. I knew they were only doing 18 rounds yesterday so I was thought I would give it one more round, wait for the Mets to roll around, see if my name pops up. But you know, I was looking for it, but when I actually saw it pop up, I was in shock, it was an unbelievable feeling. My brother was actually more excited than I was. My jaw dropped, it was just a great feeling.

Inside Pitch: Did you expect that the Mets were going to pick you, had you talked to them beforehand?

Puhl: That's funny, because, honestly, I was not expecting the Mets to pick me, at all. I had one workout with them, after the season, it was probably three weeks ago. I took a few swings, I caught, threw a few balls down to second. I guess they really liked what I did, they liked me, but that's all they saw. They didn't come out to one game of mine this season. I honestly was expecting the Astros. They came to a lot of my games, they were following me all season, and just kept in touch with me all season. It was actually a pleasant surprise to see that the Mets were actually interested in me.

Inside Pitch: What kind of player are you, a hitting catcher, a defensive catcher, how do you see yourself?

Puhl: Well, my strength is definitely my defense, and my ability to handle pitchers, and keep the running game at a minimum. I've got a pretty decent arm. I will help out in the offensive production also, but I don't consider myself a power hitter. I consider myself a line drive, gap-to-gap, doubles hitter. I'll hit my share of home runs, but I really just try to focus on hitting line drives, getting on base, and helping that way.

Inside Pitch: So if you had to compare your game to a major league player, who would you say you're most like?

Puhl: You know I've modeled myself after the catcher from the Astros, Brad Ausmus. I think I'm much like a player he is, except for the fact that I'm a switch hitter. Being a switch-hitting catcher is a pretty neat thing to be. But as with Brad Ausmus, he's a great defensive catcher, he works the pitchers real well, he'll provide offense. Not power numbers or anything like that, but really good offensive numbers for a catcher. If you can hit as a catcher, that's just a bonus.

Inside Pitch: Especially in New York, over the last 8 years or so, we've had a little bit higher offensive expectations of our catchers.

Puhl: Haha, well I'm looking forward to all that too.

Inside Pitch: Well how do you think you'll be able to handle the pressure of New York?

Puhl: Well, I lived there for one summer, I got to be around the scene a little bit, go some Mets games and some Yankee games. You know, it's a little different up there, but I'm not going to let any pressure affect me in a negative way at all, if anything, it will just help me out, make me become a better player, make me work harder. I'm not really worried about what people think of me, I'm just going to do my best, and show them that I'm a good player.

Inside Pitch: Did you have a favorite team growing up?

Puhl: Yea, I've lived in Houston my whole life, I'm not going to lie, I'm a die-hard Astros fan. Also the fact that my dad used to play for the Astros for fourteen years, that kind of adds to it a little bit. So, yea, I was kind of looking forward to the Astros [drafting me], but it's time to move on now. It's time for something new.

Inside Pitch: Now that you've been drafted what are your immediate plans? Do you think that you're going to sign right away and get your professional career started?

Puhl: Yeah, I'm definitely going to sign. This was my senior year in college so I have no more eligibility left. This is what I want to do, I want to keep playing baseball until someone tells me I can't. I'm going to sign probably within the next few days, I'm not sure. They're just going to get back in touch with me I guess today or tomorrow, and let me know all the details.

Inside Pitch: What do you think you'll have to improve on the most?

Puhl: You know, I think they're going to help me out with my hitting. You can always get better at hitting. If I can improve with my hitting, I think I'll be able to move up really well within the organization. I can get better at everything. I'm just looking forward to what they have to teach me, and how I work with pitchers, and stuff like that. I know I have a lot to learn with that also.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Tell us what it was like when you heard the Mets drafted you.
\r\n
\r\nStephen Puhl: It's a wonderful feeling, it's the day I've been looking forward to for a long time. The funny thing is, I watched about the first ten rounds, then kind of took a break, went outside. I just wanted to get my mind off it because it's a tough day to go through. My younger brother came and watched with me. I knew they were only doing 18 rounds yesterday so I was thought I would give it one more round, wait for the Mets to roll around, see if my name pops up. But you know, I was looking for it, but when I actually saw it pop up, I was in shock, it was an unbelievable feeling. My brother was actually more excited than I was. My jaw dropped, it was just a great feeling.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Did you expect that the Mets were going to pick you, had you talked to them beforehand?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: That's funny, because, honestly, I was not expecting the Mets to pick me, at all. I had one workout with them, after the season, it was probably three weeks ago. I took a few swings, I caught, threw a few balls down to second. I guess they really liked what I did, they liked me, but that's all they saw. They didn't come out to one game of mine this season. I honestly was expecting the Astros. They came to a lot of my games, they were following me all season, and just kept in touch with me all season. It was actually a pleasant surprise to see that the Mets were actually interested in me.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What kind of player are you, a hitting catcher, a defensive catcher, how do you see yourself?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: Well, my strength is definitely my defense, and my ability to handle pitchers, and keep the running game at a minimum. I've got a pretty decent arm. I will help out in the offensive production also, but I don't consider myself a power hitter. I consider myself a line drive, gap-to-gap, doubles hitter. I'll hit my share of home runs, but I really just try to focus on hitting line drives, getting on base, and helping that way.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: So if you had to compare your game to a major league player, who would you say you're most like?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: You know I've modeled myself after the catcher from the Astros, Brad Ausmus. I think I'm much like a player he is, except for the fact that I'm a switch hitter. Being a switch-hitting catcher is a pretty neat thing to be. But as with Brad Ausmus, he's a great defensive catcher, he works the pitchers real well, he'll provide offense. Not power numbers or anything like that, but really good offensive numbers for a catcher. If you can hit as a catcher, that's just a bonus.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Especially in New York, over the last 8 years or so, we've had a little bit higher offensive expectations of our catchers.
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: Haha, well I'm looking forward to all that too.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Well how do you think you'll be able to handle the pressure of New York?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: Well, I lived there for one summer, I got to be around the scene a little bit, go some Mets games and some Yankee games. You know, it's a little different up there, but I'm not going to let any pressure affect me in a negative way at all, if anything, it will just help me out, make me become a better player, make me work harder. I'm not really worried about what people think of me, I'm just going to do my best, and show them that I'm a good player.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Did you have a favorite team growing up?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: Yea, I've lived in Houston my whole life, I'm not going to lie, I'm a die-hard Astros fan. Also the fact that my dad used to play for the Astros for fourteen years, that kind of adds to it a little bit. So, yea, I was kind of looking forward to the Astros [drafting me], but it's time to move on now. It's time for something new.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Now that you've been drafted what are your immediate plans? Do you think that you're going to sign right away and get your professional career started?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: Yeah, I'm definitely going to sign. This was my senior year in college so I have no more eligibility left. This is what I want to do, I want to keep playing baseball until someone tells me I can't. I'm going to sign probably within the next few days, I'm not sure. They're just going to get back in touch with me I guess today or tomorrow, and let me know all the details.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What do you think you'll have to improve on the most?
\r\n
\r\nPuhl: You know, I think they're going to help me out with my hitting. You can always get better at hitting. If I can improve with my hitting, I think I'll be able to move up really well within the organization. I can get better at everything. I'm just looking forward to what they have to teach me, and how I work with pitchers, and stuff like that. I know I have a lot to learn with that also.
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