Kunz Turns the Corner

As anticipated, 2007 top overall pick Eddie Kunz made his big league debut this summer, but he could not have done so without gaining consistency and confidence in his game during his role as Binghamton closer. Now with eyes on next season, Kunz feels he has turned a corner and is just about where he needs to be to turn his short stay in New York into a permanent one.

In a summer that saw a number of fresh faces arrive in New York from the farm, reliever Eddie Kunz stood out for reason a beyond just his promotion. Given his position and his status as the top overall draft pick last year, it was anticipated that at some point this summer he would break through and contribute to a bullpen that received its lumps throughout the season.

But Kunz had his own battle as he navigated a tough start to the season before picking up momentum and ending his stay in Binghamton on the highest of notes. He finished off his stay with 18 consecutive scoreless innings and ran his save total to 27, good for third in the Eastern League.

It was then the Mets decided to promote Kunz to help solidify the tumultuous production coming from the big league bullpen. Though he had his eye on this time of year for a possible call up, it was not easy for Kunz to downplay his emotion.

"I got used to pitching in the league and by the end of my time in Binghamton I was really pitching well. I got a little bit of a hot streak, figuring out how to get people out and then I got the call to the big leagues for a couple days in August which was a total dream come true," he detailed.

"I really feel like it was a great cap to my year after getting over 25 saves in Double-A which is something I wanted to do before the year. I wanted to work my way up the system and get closer to the bigs, and I went beyond that getting my way to the big leagues before going to Triple-A."

The biggest difference for Kunz this year was improved, overall command. Known for his diving, mid-90s fastball, the focus of his sophomore campaign was to better harness his slider and changeup. Earlier this year, he lacked consistent control of both pitches which led to a high number of baserunners and walks.

Yet as the year went on, Kunz gained a feel for the pitches and quieted down his delivery which finally gave him strong options off his fastball. He acknowledged that if it were not for that improvement, he would not have finished off his time in Binghamton as he did nor made it to the big leagues.

"I really did a much better job of commanding all my pitches this year. At the beginning of the year I was a little unsure, but getting all the help from Ricky Bones and the pitching coordinators, I did a much with my balance which made my pitches very consistent for strikes or locating where I needed to," he explained.

"Going from Double-A straight to New York definitely needed those changes," he added. "The hitters are a lot smarter, a lot more patient and they take a lot more pitches. I need to fool them in any way possible that's the biggest thing for me. I can't just go up there throwing mid-90s the entire time. I have to be able to throw my slider and changeup as well so I can make the hitters have to concentrate on more than my fastball."

Ultimately, Kunz's stay with the big league club did not go as hoped as he allowed four earned runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched. After 13 days with the Mets, he was reassigned to Triple-A where he went 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in 5 2/3 innings over six games [though all five runs allowed came in one outing].

But his first taste of Triple-A came with a bonus as he got to work day-to-day with pitching coordinator Rick Waits who was serving as the Triple-A pitching coach at the time.

"Working with Rick Waits [in Triple-A] was big because he worked on the little things with my delivery that I needed to sharpen up. There really wasn't anything major, it was just little tweaks like my grip, my feet, my hands, little things to get me more comfortable each time I deliver the ball," he said.

Now in Arizona, Kunz has completed a string of games similar to his stint in Triple-A. In nine AFL games, Kunz is 0-1 with a 8.68 ERA [9 1/3 IP] but eight of his nine earned runs allowed game in one outing back on October 17th. Other than that, he has shutout the opposition in seven of his eight other appearances.

Still, his work in Arizona [and likely Puerto Rico later on] is about continuing to build consistency and smoothing out his game so that when Spring Training rolls around, he will be ready to meet his opportunity head on.

"[Winter ball] is about getting more reps, get everything consistent and keep working on the things I was doing in New Orleans like my arm action, working on throwing strikes, throwing downhill, keeping the ball down, all those little things to fine tune my location so that when I step into big league camp next year I'll be ready to go."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nIn a summer that saw a number of fresh faces arrive in New York from the farm, reliever Eddie Kunz stood out for reason a beyond just his promotion. Given his position and his status as the top overall draft pick last year, it was anticipated that at some point this summer he would break through and contribute to a bullpen that received its lumps throughout the season.
\r\n
\r\nBut Kunz had his own battle as he navigated a tough start to the season before picking up momentum and ending his stay in Binghamton on the highest of notes. He finished off his stay with 18 consecutive scoreless innings and ran his save total to 27, good for third in the Eastern League.
\r\n
\r\nIt was then the Mets decided to promote Kunz to help solidify the tumultuous production coming from the big league bullpen. Though he had his eye on this time of year for a possible call up, it was not easy for Kunz to downplay his emotion.
\r\n
\r\n\"I got used to pitching in the league and by the end of my time in Binghamton I was really pitching well. I got a little bit of a hot streak, figuring out how to get people out and then I got the call to the big leagues for a couple days in August which was a total dream come true,\" he detailed.
\r\n
\r\n\"I really feel like it was a great cap to my year after getting over 25 saves in Double-A which is something I wanted to do before the year. I wanted to work my way up the system and get closer to the bigs, and I went beyond that getting my way to the big leagues before going to Triple-A.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe biggest difference for Kunz this year was improved, overall command. Known for his diving, mid-90s fastball, the focus of his sophomore campaign was to better harness his slider and changeup. Earlier this year, he lacked consistent control of both pitches which led to a high number of baserunners and walks.
\r\n
\r\nYet as the year went on, Kunz gained a feel for the pitches and quieted down his delivery which finally gave him strong options off his fastball. He acknowledged that if it were not for that improvement, he would not have finished off his time in Binghamton as he did nor made it to the big leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"I really did a much better job of commanding all my pitches this year. At the beginning of the year I was a little unsure, but getting all the help from Ricky Bones and the pitching coordinators, I did a much with my balance which made my pitches very consistent for strikes or locating where I needed to,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"Going from Double-A straight to New York definitely needed those changes,\" he added. \"The hitters are a lot smarter, a lot more patient and they take a lot more pitches. I need to fool them in any way possible that's the biggest thing for me. I can't just go up there throwing mid-90s the entire time. I have to be able to throw my slider and changeup as well so I can make the hitters have to concentrate on more than my fastball.\"
\r\n
\r\nUltimately, Kunz's stay with the big league club did not go as hoped as he allowed four earned runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched. After 13 days with the Mets, he was reassigned to Triple-A where he went 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in 5 2/3 innings over six games [though all five runs allowed came in one outing].
\r\n
\r\nBut his first taste of Triple-A came with a bonus as he got to work day-to-day with pitching coordinator Rick Waits who was serving as the Triple-A pitching coach at the time.
\r\n
\r\n\"Working with Rick Waits [in Triple-A] was big because he worked on the little things with my delivery that I needed to sharpen up. There really wasn't anything major, it was just little tweaks like my grip, my feet, my hands, little things to get me more comfortable each time I deliver the ball,\" he said.
\r\n
\r\nNow in Arizona, Kunz has completed a string of games similar to his stint in Triple-A. In nine AFL games, Kunz is 0-1 with a 8.68 ERA [9 1/3 IP] but eight of his nine earned runs allowed game in one outing back on October 17th. Other than that, he has shutout the opposition in seven of his eight other appearances.
\r\n
\r\nStill, his work in Arizona [and likely Puerto Rico later on] is about continuing to build consistency and smoothing out his game so that when Spring Training rolls around, he will be ready to meet his opportunity head on.
\r\n
\r\n\"[Winter ball] is about getting more reps, get everything consistent and keep working on the things I was doing in New Orleans like my arm action, working on throwing strikes, throwing downhill, keeping the ball down, all those little things to fine tune my location so that when I step into big league camp next year I'll be ready to go.\"
\r\n
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