The Mets signed outfielder Stefan Sabol in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Orange Coast College. In 2010, he was drafted out of high school in the 17th round by the Atlanta Braves, but chose to go to college instead. In 2011, he attended the University of Oregon and played one season before moving on to play at Orange Coast for the 2012 season. He shared what the feeling was of having the opportunity to be drafted to play pro ball, “I was extremely grateful to be playing for a great organization like the New York Mets. It wasn’t as high as I would have liked to have been picked that year but I know everything happens for the best,” says Sabol.
He started his career in Brooklyn and talked about what the experience was like with playing in pro ball compared to college, “The atmosphere in Brooklyn was tremendous and there was a lot of energy. Definitely a lot more people at the game than at any game I had played at the University of Oregon or Orange Coast College,” says the outfield prospect. In 60 games, he batted .241/.343/.395, with 25 runs, 17 doubles, five home runs and 21 RBI’s in 220 at bats.
In 2013, he was promoted to Savannah, and in 105 games, he batted .203/.298/.345, with 42 runs, 18 doubles, five triples, eight home runs, 42 RBI’s, 13 stolen bases in 365 at bats.
I asked him what part of his game he felt improved the most from 2012, and even though he had better offensive numbers, he felt there was more to his improvement than just hitting the ball better, “My defense was the most improved in a year. I dealt with some arm troubles in Brooklyn and I just hadn’t gotten comfortable in left field because I had been catching more when I played at Orange Coast College. But this past year was different, I lost a lot of weight and gained speed and just made better reads on the baseball and smarter decisions in the outfield,” says Sabol.
Having had the privilege of interviewing some of his teammates at Savannah about their experience winning the 2013 South Atlantic Championship has been priceless. He shares what the experience meant to him,”The feeling was so amazing and the fans always supported us along the way. We just wanted to go out and win as many ball games as we could and we accomplished our goal of winning a championship and it was a very fulfilling feeling,” he continues, “we want to take this winning attitude all the way through our careers and hopefully help the Mets win a World Series title.” That would be a great thing for all Mets fans to experience as well.
In the 2013 playoffs, he batted, .263, with four runs scored, two doubles, one triple, eight RBI’s and three walks. Simply, he did his part to help lead the team to becoming champions. I look forward to watching him lead the Mets in the coming years.
David – Is there something that you would like to share with the Mets fans that they do not already know about you? Your interests and/or hobbies outside of baseball?
Stefan - I’m a huge Star Wars fan and love sci-fi. I enjoy watching movies, hanging out with friends, going fishing, shooting, and of course playing video games. I am also half Samoan.
David – Did you have a favorite player and if so, did you model your game after him?
Stefan - My favorite player growing up had to be Vladimir Guerrero, he had all the tools to play the game and he never ceased to amaze me with what he could do with the bat, and I was a huge Angels fan growing up.
David – While Growing up in Aliso Viejo, CA, who influenced you to play baseball?
Stefan - My dad definitely influenced baseball on me the most; we always worked day in and day out hitting baseballs and just trying to get better and better. My mom also is a huge supporter because she knows it is my dream to play in the big leagues.
David – In 2013, you played on the Savannah team that made history, what can you take away from the season and what was the chemistry like with your teammates?
Stefan - The season was a grind but we had an amazing group of guys that were all working together. It was more than a team, we were family and I believe our chemistry really gave us an advantage over all the rest of the other teams.
David – What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?
Stefan - I think everyone improved through the year but there were two people that really impressed me throughout the season and they were Steven Matz and Beck Wheeler. The adversities they have had to overcome in the past in their careers and to have the season they had this year was nothing short than amazing.
David – With 2013 being just your second year in pro ball, is there any part of your game that you feel you needed to work on?
Stefan - Statistically it was a rough year for me. But my coaches instilled in me that I was hitting the ball hard and to keep that approach and grind through it. Luckily, through the playoffs, things went more my way and I was able to help our team win. But I do want to improve on my consistency offensively but not try and force things and do too much and stay within myself. More importantly just do whatever it takes to help our ball club win.
David – Is there a Met manager or coach who has made an impact in your approach to the game and helped elevate your performance?
Stefan - The whole staff, from our coaches and trainers did a great job. Definitely Frank Viola helped a lot with me mentally on the game and Joel Fuentes was always working with me to help me improve day in day out, and Luis Rojas instilled confidence in me that I can be a great ball player by believing in myself and not try and do too much. I’m truly blessed to have had them as my coaching staff for this season.
David – With the success you have had in your brief time in the minors; do you feel like you are on track with the goals you set for yourself? Are you ready to make the move to the next level?
Stefan - In this short time in pro ball I’ve really started to see more improvement in myself. I’ve accomplished some of my goals but I still have a lot of work to do to accomplish the rest of my goals that I have for myself. Through hard work and relentlessness and belief in myself, I believe I can accomplish it. All I want to do is have a good off-season and spring training. Wherever the Mets put me next year I have faith that it is in my best interest for developing. I feel I can perform at any level and every ball player has to have that confidence otherwise he is already beat. But I’m going to take it day by day and work hard and God will put me exactly where I need to be.
David – How will you prepare over the winter; can you describe your workout regimen?
Stefan - In December I start my two a days in the gym and hitting every day. Along with that, I diet and make sure I eat clean to maximize my training. Last year I did this before spring training; I weighed 245 and dropped to 205 before the season and I felt great and I plan to do it again but try and gain more agility and speed.
David – Anything you would like to tell the Mets fans?
Stefan - I hope to improve more and more and help the Mets win a World Series title. Love all the love and support from my fans and all the Mets fans out there. There’s a lot of great young talent in the organization and I think the Mets will be a contender real soon.
Thank you Stefan for sharing your story with the Mets fans. In just a short period of time, actually just two seasons, Sabol has put himself in a situation that will allow him to continue to follow his dreams of one day becoming a major league player. The last few years, the Mets have stocked their farm system with not only good talent, but great all around young athletes. It is very easy to get excited about what the next few seasons will look like in New York; when the kids grow up and take over the reigns, the team may experience the success they have prepared for.
(Photo Credit - Tracy Proffitt)