Q&A with 2010 19th Rd Pick Jonathan Kountis

With their 19th round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, the New York Mets selected right-hander Jonathan Kountis out of Embry-Riddle University. Inside Pitch caught up with Kountis to talk about his draft process, the positive feelings he had going into the draft, why his favorite player will attracts Mets fans, and more.

To Discuss All The Draft Day Q&As, head over to the Subscribers Forum


InsidePitchMagazine.com: Tell us, what is going through you mind right now after being selected by a team like the New York Mets?

Jonathan Kountis: To be honest with you, I'm on cloud nine. In my mind it's part of the American dream. It's just a hell of a feeling to know that I can still go on after college and put on the cleats and go play. That's the best feeling, knowing that I can keep on with my career.

The best way to describe it is like when you win a championship in any kind of sport, even in little league, that feeling of satisfaction when you finally reach one of your longtime life goals. For 16 years, ever since I was 6 years old I've been dreaming about this moment, and now it's here, and I couldn't have picked a better team to do it with.

Inside Pitch: Were you surprised that it was the Mets that drafted you? Did you and the club have any discussions leading up to the draft?

Kountis: I actually went to a Mets draft workout and I did real well there. I started having talks with a bunch of guys in the organization, discussions about the draft and everything. After the tryout they had an interest in me. That was the team I knew that if I was going to go in the teens they were going to pick me up. I pitched well for them; I impressed them in the tryout.

Inside Pitch: Do you have any ideas of what the Mets' organization or farm system is like?

Kountis: I do not. I know that the team I'm most likely to be sent to is located in Brooklyn and it's short season A-team. I have no idea what the organization is like but I had talks with some of the coaches at the tryout and they told me that their farm system is one of the best in Major League Baseball and they develop their players very well. I'm just really looking forward to being around coaches like that and trying to learn as much as I can.

Inside Pitch: How do you feel your amateur days have prepared you for the jump to professional ball?

Kountis: I've had a mix of coaches in my college career. I played at two schools, one here in Ohio, Ohio Dominican, and one in Daytona, Florida at Embry-Riddle. I had two different sets of coaches; I had one set of old school coaches at Ohio Dominican, and in Daytona, my head coach and pitching coach both played minor league ball, and it was a little more relaxed, more of a just get stuff done kind of thing.

I feel like being around those kinds of coaches, I'm able to be ready for any group of coaches. The summer leagues I've played, the Alaska league, the Cape Cod league and the Great Lakes league, being in those three different leagues I've met so many different players. Obviously with playing in the Cape I feel like when I go play for the Mets, I'm going to be around guys that I've already played against in the Cape. I feel like I'm going to be able to adjust a lot quicker than I would've if I didn't get all the experience that I've gotten from all of the places that I've played.

Inside Pitch: Did you have any ideas or projections of where you may go in the draft or did you just prepare to be selected at any time?

Kountis: I was informed to be ready to go in between the 10th and 20th rounds, and it happened for me, and that's something that usually doesn't happen. To be honest with you they always tell you something and sometimes you get pushed down in the draft because that's just how things go. So to actually go where I was told I was going to go is really exciting.

Inside Pitch: What type of pitcher are you? How do you see yourself fitting in with the Mets?

Kountis: I'm more of a finesse power pitcher. The highest I've thrown is 96 (mph), but I usually sit around 92. I've been a starter my whole life. I think I'm going to start off as a starter and if they see me as a better fit as a reliever, I'll do whatever they want me to do. At this point it's just fantastic to be a professional baseball player.

Inside Pitch: Can you describe your repertoire? What type of pitches do you throw and at what speeds? What is your best pitch and what do you think needs the most work?

Kountis: I throw fastball, slider, changeup. The pitch that needs the most work is probably my changeup. My best pitch is my fastball, which is in the 90's. I'd say my most effective pitch, when it's on, is my slider. I throw it around 83-84, and I throw my changeup around 82-83, getting that 10-12 mph difference from my fastball.

Inside Pitch: To give our readers, and Mets fans, a better image of what you look like on the mound, is there someone at the big league level you could compare your style to?

Kountis: When I was little, the person I'd always try to emulate, because of his smoothness, was John Smoltz. I was always learning my mechanics off of him. I picked up tips from watching videos of him and stuff like that.

Inside Pitch: What was your favorite team and your favorite player growing up?

Kountis: My favorite team, I guess because I'm from Ohio, was the Cleveland Indians, but I never had much of a thing for rooting for one team. I was always a player kind of guy. My favorite player actually, and this is a coincidence, is Tom Seaver. When I was in Alaska I played for the Fairbanks Goldpanners, and he played on the same team. The GM for the team, he's in his 70's or 80's, he was there when Seaver was on the team, and he told me that I picked the same number as him. So I started learning about him, and I thought it was a big coincidence. I always had his baseball card, and it made it more exciting.

Inside Pitch: What would you say was your best baseball moment so far?

Kountis: When I was in Alaska I threw a perfect game against the Kenai Oilers. Obviously if you do something like that it's always going to stick out in your head. It helped me put myself on the map. It was summer after my freshman year and after that things started looking up for me.

Inside Pitch: I'm sure you know New York is known for its high-intensity atmosphere. What do you think about the prospects of playing in New York one day?

Kountis: I would love that. I actually have tons of family in New York. I've been to a few games there and I've seen the crowds, and I think that makes baseball more fun. In Cleveland, the fans are loyal, but you don't see the hollering and hooting from the fans there. I feel like when you have that it only intensifies the game, for the players as well as the fans.

If your pitching and it's the top of the eight or ninth, and the fans are up clapping, I think that's awesome. I think that's what makes baseball great. I feel like because of cities like New York, St. Louis, Chicago, all of those big cities with fans like that, I feel like that's what has carried baseball throughout so many years.

Inside Pitch: What are your immediate plans now that you have been drafted by the Mets? Is it your intention to sign now and get your career started immediately?

Kountis: Yes, yes it is.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nTo Discuss All The Draft Day Q&As, head over to the Subscribers Forum
\r\n
\r\n
\r\nInsidePitchMagazine.com: Tell us, what is going through you mind right now after being selected by a team like the New York Mets?
\r\n
\r\nJonathan Kountis: To be honest with you, I'm on cloud nine. In my mind it's part of the American dream. It's just a hell of a feeling to know that I can still go on after college and put on the cleats and go play. That's the best feeling, knowing that I can keep on with my career.
\r\n
\r\nThe best way to describe it is like when you win a championship in any kind of sport, even in little league, that feeling of satisfaction when you finally reach one of your longtime life goals. For 16 years, ever since I was 6 years old I've been dreaming about this moment, and now it's here, and I couldn't have picked a better team to do it with.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Were you surprised that it was the Mets that drafted you? Did you and the club have any discussions leading up to the draft?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I actually went to a Mets draft workout and I did real well there. I started having talks with a bunch of guys in the organization, discussions about the draft and everything. After the tryout they had an interest in me. That was the team I knew that if I was going to go in the teens they were going to pick me up. I pitched well for them; I impressed them in the tryout.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you have any ideas of what the Mets' organization or farm system is like?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I do not. I know that the team I'm most likely to be sent to is located in Brooklyn and it's short season A-team. I have no idea what the organization is like but I had talks with some of the coaches at the tryout and they told me that their farm system is one of the best in Major League Baseball and they develop their players very well. I'm just really looking forward to being around coaches like that and trying to learn as much as I can.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: How do you feel your amateur days have prepared you for the jump to professional ball?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I've had a mix of coaches in my college career. I played at two schools, one here in Ohio, Ohio Dominican, and one in Daytona, Florida at Embry-Riddle. I had two different sets of coaches; I had one set of old school coaches at Ohio Dominican, and in Daytona, my head coach and pitching coach both played minor league ball, and it was a little more relaxed, more of a just get stuff done kind of thing.
\r\n
\r\nI feel like being around those kinds of coaches, I'm able to be ready for any group of coaches. The summer leagues I've played, the Alaska league, the Cape Cod league and the Great Lakes league, being in those three different leagues I've met so many different players. Obviously with playing in the Cape I feel like when I go play for the Mets, I'm going to be around guys that I've already played against in the Cape. I feel like I'm going to be able to adjust a lot quicker than I would've if I didn't get all the experience that I've gotten from all of the places that I've played.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Did you have any ideas or projections of where you may go in the draft or did you just prepare to be selected at any time?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I was informed to be ready to go in between the 10th and 20th rounds, and it happened for me, and that's something that usually doesn't happen. To be honest with you they always tell you something and sometimes you get pushed down in the draft because that's just how things go. So to actually go where I was told I was going to go is really exciting.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What type of pitcher are you? How do you see yourself fitting in with the Mets?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I'm more of a finesse power pitcher. The highest I've thrown is 96 (mph), but I usually sit around 92. I've been a starter my whole life. I think I'm going to start off as a starter and if they see me as a better fit as a reliever, I'll do whatever they want me to do. At this point it's just fantastic to be a professional baseball player.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Can you describe your repertoire? What type of pitches do you throw and at what speeds? What is your best pitch and what do you think needs the most work?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I throw fastball, slider, changeup. The pitch that needs the most work is probably my changeup. My best pitch is my fastball, which is in the 90's. I'd say my most effective pitch, when it's on, is my slider. I throw it around 83-84, and I throw my changeup around 82-83, getting that 10-12 mph difference from my fastball.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: To give our readers, and Mets fans, a better image of what you look like on the mound, is there someone at the big league level you could compare your style to?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: When I was little, the person I'd always try to emulate, because of his smoothness, was John Smoltz. I was always learning my mechanics off of him. I picked up tips from watching videos of him and stuff like that.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What was your favorite team and your favorite player growing up?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: My favorite team, I guess because I'm from Ohio, was the Cleveland Indians, but I never had much of a thing for rooting for one team. I was always a player kind of guy. My favorite player actually, and this is a coincidence, is Tom Seaver. When I was in Alaska I played for the Fairbanks Goldpanners, and he played on the same team. The GM for the team, he's in his 70's or 80's, he was there when Seaver was on the team, and he told me that I picked the same number as him. So I started learning about him, and I thought it was a big coincidence. I always had his baseball card, and it made it more exciting.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What would you say was your best baseball moment so far?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: When I was in Alaska I threw a perfect game against the Kenai Oilers. Obviously if you do something like that it's always going to stick out in your head. It helped me put myself on the map. It was summer after my freshman year and after that things started looking up for me.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: I'm sure you know New York is known for its high-intensity atmosphere. What do you think about the prospects of playing in New York one day?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: I would love that. I actually have tons of family in New York. I've been to a few games there and I've seen the crowds, and I think that makes baseball more fun. In Cleveland, the fans are loyal, but you don't see the hollering and hooting from the fans there. I feel like when you have that it only intensifies the game, for the players as well as the fans.
\r\n
\r\nIf your pitching and it's the top of the eight or ninth, and the fans are up clapping, I think that's awesome. I think that's what makes baseball great. I feel like because of cities like New York, St. Louis, Chicago, all of those big cities with fans like that, I feel like that's what has carried baseball throughout so many years.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What are your immediate plans now that you have been drafted by the Mets? Is it your intention to sign now and get your career started immediately?
\r\n
\r\nKountis: Yes, yes it is.
\r\n
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