Catching prospect Patrick Mazeika was the New York Mets 8th round draft pick in 2015.
In his brief time in the Mets organization, he has shown he’s a promising hitter. Due to this production, he was named a 2015 MiLB organizational All-Star for the Mets. Recently, he was named the Mets 29th best prospect by MLB Pipeline, and he was named the 44th best prospect by MMN.
While preparing for what promises to be another successful season, Mazeika took some time to discuss with me about his development as a player.
MMN – Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. One of the things that will stand out to many Mets fans is the fact you were drafted out of Stetson University like current Mets starter Jacob deGrom. What is it about Stetson University that prepares its players for professional baseball?
Patrick – Stetson is a great place to get better as a player. It’s a good program with a great coaching staff. You can’t beat the weather and facilities they have. It’s a professional environment that helps transition into pro baseball.
MMN – Speaking of the transition to pro ball, what have you found to be the biggest difference over the past two years?
Patrick – The pitching is just more polished in pro baseball. They throw harder with better off-speed pitches. Consistency is the biggest thing. As you move up, you notice pitchers can consistently make pitches that guys at the lower levels won’t make as often. Everyone is very talented, but the higher level guys execute more often.
MMN – How has that affected your approach at the plate?
Patrick – I wouldn’t say that it has really affected my approach at all. As a hitter, you’re getting better at recognizing pitches with more at-bats against good pitching. The one thing it has changed is trying to be aggressive on my pitches. You get fewer mistakes in pro baseball and even fewer as you move up levels.
MMN – Could you walk me through a typical at-bat? What is your approach? What specifically are your type of pitches?
Patrick – Everything depends on the situation. Looking for a fastball in the heart of the plate and reacting to off-speed pitches up in the zone. Trying to take good “pitcher’s pitches.”
MMN – Going back to your statement that pitchers execute better as you’ve risen through the minor leagues, how does that impact you as a catcher?
Patrick – It makes it a little easier as you progress as a catcher. The better a pitcher can execute the easier it is to have a game plan.
MMN – How have you improved as a catcher since joining the Mets?
Patrick – I’ve improved in every aspect defensively – definitely improved a lot receiving especially this offseason after instructional league. My throwing has improved with better mechanics back there. This offseason I’ve also gotten more flexible and I feel I’m moving better.
MMN – At 6’3″ you’re taller than most catchers. How do you feel your height behind the plate helps and hinders you?
Patrick – Bigger guys have longer legs so you have to spend extra time on your mobility to be able to get low and receive well. That’s been the biggest thing for me, and I think I’ve made a lot of progress because of that. It helps because I’m a bigger target for pitchers to throw to back there.
MMN – In your time catching for Kingsport and Columbia, which pitchers have impressed you the most?
Patrick – Obviously, P.J. Conlon was very impressive. Also Nabil Crismatt was very solid both years I’ve played with him. We had some great relief pitchers as well. Our entire bullpen in Columbia was impressive.
MMN – Overall, who would you say has had the biggest impact on your career?
Patrick – I wouldn’t say any specific advice has been key. It’s everything I’ve learned since being drafted. I didn’t really know how to approach receiving or blocking. The biggest thing was having a catching coordinator to work with every day. Getting good reps and learning what works and what doesn’t behind the plate has been big.
MMN – What has been your favorite memory as a baseball player?
Patrick – Besides getting drafted it’s probably my walk-off home run in college my freshman year.
MMN – Who was your favorite player growing up?
MMN – Would you say you try to model your game after Varitek, or was he a favorite of yours for other reasons?
Patrick – I grew up watching the Red Sox. I always liked how he played. I don’t model my game after anyone specific though.
MMN – Last year, your former teammate Nicco Blank made a name for himself for leaving tickets for Taylor Swift to see him pitch. What famous person would you like to come see you pitch?
Patrick – Tom Brady. It doesn’t get better than him.
MMN – If Brady does come, what kind of player is he going to see?
Patrick – Hopefully a player who’s going to control the game behind the plate and a fun guy to watch hit.
MMN – What are your goals for the 2017 season?
Patrick – Continue to get better in all aspects of my game defensively. Also to drive the ball and to do more damage offensively.
Personally, I’d like to thank Mazeika for taking the time to speak with me while he is preparing for the 2017 season. Hopefully, the interview illuminates just how hard working and dedicated he is. If he continues to improve the areas of the game like he has been doing, we can expect big things for Mazeika in years to come.