Kunz Ready for New Challenges

Eddie Kunz, the Mets top overall pick in the 2007 MLB Draft, made an uncommon jump in his second season going from Brooklyn all the way to Binghamton. Unfazed by the promotion and armed with an improved slider and changeup, he feels ready to take on the strong hitting of the Eastern League and show the organization its decision to promote him so high was the right one

"I was a little bit surprised because I heard the organization likes to start their prospects out in warmer weather for a while before they sent me off to a different place. But, when I found I was coming here I got really excited because I wanted to show [the organization] that I can handle the better hitting, and go out and take care of business in the back of the bullpen like I know I'm capable of," responded Eddie Kunz when asked about his thoughts on his promotion to the B-Mets after just one professional season.

Yet Eddie Kunz will not sugarcoat his rookie season. He acknowledges that at times during his tenure with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2007 he was up and down too often as a closer, let alone a top overall draft pick and former closer of a two-time NCAA champion. During his stay in Brooklyn the 6-foot-5, 260 pound right-hander posted an unattractive 6.75 ERA and recorded a 0-1 record. However, he was a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities and allowed hitters to maintain just a .190 average.

No matter any struggles he faced during his rookie season, he understands the lessons he learned in the NY-Penn League are valuable as he now takes his game to Binghamton and the much tougher Eastern League.

"I took a lot away from my time in Brooklyn and Brooklyn is a lot how people describe it. It's a step away from Shea and I can see that after going to Shea and being around the club and getting the kind of reaction that I did. It's the same thing in Brooklyn but ten thousand people every night instead of fifty thousand. A lot was expected from my position and I expected a lot from myself."

Already known for his power, mid-90s sinking fastball, Kunz dedicated time to improving his secondary pitches during the Arizona Fall League. His slider and changeup were both effective for him during his rookie season but lacked ideal consistency that would make him a deeper pitcher. He struggled with his command at times with Brooklyn which led him to issue eight walks in 12 innings pitched—a ratio he does not wish to duplicate.

"I feel like I developed my slider and changeup command really well during the Arizona Fall League," said Kunz. I needed to work on getting my slider over the plate more consistently and be able to use it in different corners of the strike zone. Being able to throw strikes when I need to is really the biggest thing."

That mission continued on into March and when he arrived in Port St. Lucie for Spring Training he received a great amount of assistance from a rather unexpected source. In camp, Billy Wagner quickly took Kunz under his wing and worked with him on the physical and mental rigors being a closer at the highest level, and Kunz relished the experience.

"Being under the understudy of a guy like Billy Wagner took me by surprise as he grabbed me like the first day we were down there and said ‘hey follow me around, workout with me, see what I do' and in those three weeks I spent with him, I learned a lot more than I have in a long time. Seeing how he works out and his approach to pitching, it was really something," he recounted.

Now he takes the work from the AFL and from camp to Binghamton where he faces his toughest challenge yet—a league full of deeper and unforgiving lineups. But, he feels his winter league experience and first Spring Training has set him up for success.

"In the AFL, I was seeing better hitting and pitching so I was able to see what much higher level hitting and pitching looks like. I'm sure I'll see some of those guys I faced in Arizona here so that made that opportunity even more important and helped me out a lot."

"These guys are going to be very selective about their pitches," he continued. "It's really the mentality here. If it's an inch outside they aren't going to swing which means I can't be wild around the strike zone. I've really got to keep the ball down because I've seen what guys here can do to mistake pitches and I can't afford to have too many of those, unlike last year when I could afford to miss a pitch high and over the plate."

Kunz made an early impression right away by earning his first Double-A save right on Opening Day. To go out and put a number in the save column so quickly he admits was a satisfying experience, and as he looks ahead, he knows there will be plenty more satisfying moments to be had.

"Getting my first save was a great feeling, really exciting, because I knew I was going to come out and pitch the first night, but to come out in a save opportunity and get a win for our team on Opening Day was even better,' he detailed. "But looking ahead, I'm really excited about this year whether I stay here or maybe get moved up at some point, but this team we have right now I'm confident we can get a lot of wins under our belt and I'm looking forward to being a big part of those wins."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\"I was a little bit surprised because I heard the organization likes to start their prospects out in warmer weather for a while before they sent me off to a different place. But, when I found I was coming here I got really excited because I wanted to show [the organization] that I can handle the better hitting, and go out and take care of business in the back of the bullpen like I know I'm capable of,\" responded Eddie Kunz when asked about his thoughts on his promotion to the B-Mets after just one professional season.
\r\n
\r\nYet Eddie Kunz will not sugarcoat his rookie season. He acknowledges that at times during his tenure with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2007 he was up and down too often as a closer, let alone a top overall draft pick and former closer of a two-time NCAA champion. During his stay in Brooklyn the 6-foot-5, 260 pound right-hander posted an unattractive 6.75 ERA and recorded a 0-1 record. However, he was a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities and allowed hitters to maintain just a .190 average.
\r\n
\r\nNo matter any struggles he faced during his rookie season, he understands the lessons he learned in the NY-Penn League are valuable as he now takes his game to Binghamton and the much tougher Eastern League.
\r\n
\r\n\"I took a lot away from my time in Brooklyn and Brooklyn is a lot how people describe it. It's a step away from Shea and I can see that after going to Shea and being around the club and getting the kind of reaction that I did. It's the same thing in Brooklyn but ten thousand people every night instead of fifty thousand. A lot was expected from my position and I expected a lot from myself.\"
\r\n
\r\nAlready known for his power, mid-90s sinking fastball, Kunz dedicated time to improving his secondary pitches during the Arizona Fall League. His slider and changeup were both effective for him during his rookie season but lacked ideal consistency that would make him a deeper pitcher. He struggled with his command at times with Brooklyn which led him to issue eight walks in 12 innings pitched—a ratio he does not wish to duplicate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I feel like I developed my slider and changeup command really well during the Arizona Fall League,\" said Kunz. I needed to work on getting my slider over the plate more consistently and be able to use it in different corners of the strike zone. Being able to throw strikes when I need to is really the biggest thing.\"
\r\n
\r\nThat mission continued on into March and when he arrived in Port St. Lucie for Spring Training he received a great amount of assistance from a rather unexpected source. In camp, Billy Wagner quickly took Kunz under his wing and worked with him on the physical and mental rigors being a closer at the highest level, and Kunz relished the experience.
\r\n
\r\n\"Being under the understudy of a guy like Billy Wagner took me by surprise as he grabbed me like the first day we were down there and said ‘hey follow me around, workout with me, see what I do' and in those three weeks I spent with him, I learned a lot more than I have in a long time. Seeing how he works out and his approach to pitching, it was really something,\" he recounted.
\r\n
\r\nNow he takes the work from the AFL and from camp to Binghamton where he faces his toughest challenge yet—a league full of deeper and unforgiving lineups. But, he feels his winter league experience and first Spring Training has set him up for success.
\r\n
\r\n\"In the AFL, I was seeing better hitting and pitching so I was able to see what much higher level hitting and pitching looks like. I'm sure I'll see some of those guys I faced in Arizona here so that made that opportunity even more important and helped me out a lot.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"These guys are going to be very selective about their pitches,\" he continued. \"It's really the mentality here. If it's an inch outside they aren't going to swing which means I can't be wild around the strike zone. I've really got to keep the ball down because I've seen what guys here can do to mistake pitches and I can't afford to have too many of those, unlike last year when I could afford to miss a pitch high and over the plate.\"
\r\n
\r\nKunz made an early impression right away by earning his first Double-A save right on Opening Day. To go out and put a number in the save column so quickly he admits was a satisfying experience, and as he looks ahead, he knows there will be plenty more satisfying moments to be had.
\r\n
\r\n\"Getting my first save was a great feeling, really exciting, because I knew I was going to come out and pitch the first night, but to come out in a save opportunity and get a win for our team on Opening Day was even better,' he detailed. \"But looking ahead, I'm really excited about this year whether I stay here or maybe get moved up at some point, but this team we have right now I'm confident we can get a lot of wins under our belt and I'm looking forward to being a big part of those wins.\"
\r\n
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