The New York Mets drafted right-handed pitcher Christian James in the 14th round of the 2016 draft from East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
James, 19, had a fantastic pro debut for the GCL Mets in 2016 when he had a 0.52 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and held opponents to a .177 average over 17.1 innings as a reliever.
The 6’3”, 210 pound pitcher was a full-time starter in 2017 for the Kingsport Mets spanning 11 starts and 51.2 innings. He allowed 54 hits (only three homers), 16 walks and struck out 58 in that span.
I talked to several people this spring that loved what they saw from James in minor league camp and one thing I heard numerous times was, “the ball jumps out of his hand.”
James is already a guy that can hit 95 mph with his four-seamer, sits mostly 91-93 and does get some sink on the pitch. He also uses a slider in the low 80’s that he likes to throw in any count and a changeup that’s developing as his third best pitch. Throws a slow curve as well, though it’s a distant fourth pitch for him.
MMN – What are you doing right now to get ready for the 2018 season?
Christian – Right now I’m practicing everyday and working on certain things I need to work on for the season.
MMN – Is there any specific you’re working on whether it’s a pitch grip or something mechanical in your delivery?
Christian – I feel comfortable in my delivery right now so I do a lot of dry work everyday before I throw so I can repeat my delivery consistently. I’ve been working on my change up a lot this spring too.
MMN – What was the adjustment for you going from dominating in high school to your first pro season?
Christian – Hitting my spots. You can get away with that in high school but in the pros if you miss your spot they will do some damage.
MMN – How do you prep for each game as a starting pitcher? What kind of advanced scouting do you utilize?
Christian – Scouting report that I get but I go off what’s happening in the game. Every game will be different for them so I go off their batting stance or body langue and just see how they react and what they are looking to do that at bat because it can be different anytime all the time.
MMN – You pitch with Juan Uriarte, thought of as a good defensive catcher, how did he help you with that and how did having someone like him help you overall as a pitcher?
Christian – You can trust him. He knows how to call the game and anything you throw in the dirt he will throw his body in front of it for you.
MMN – Who has influenced you the most as a coach, in the Mets organization or before, and how?
Christian – Josue Matos he was my pitching coach in Kingsport and he taught me a lot this season how to pick up and notice what hitters are trying to do in certain situations and I felt like that helped me a lot.
MMN – For people that haven’t seen you pitch, and what’s a typical game plan for your style of pitching?
Christian – Get ahead of the count with my fastball and then mix it up with my off speed pitches.
MMN – Do you pay attention to the radar gun at all? Or is that something you don’t worry about?
Christian – I pay attention to it but it’s not my main worry. As long my velocity doesn’t go down then I’m happy.
MMN – What do you think about modern baseball pitch counts? Is that something that was a big deal pitching in high school?
Christian – I like it. You don’t want to over use your pitcher that’s how injuries happen. At my high school our coach was big on pitch counts because he didn’t want anybody to ruin their career in high school.
MMN – When did you start pitching, and being from Florida how many months out of the year did you regularly play baseball?
Christian – Started pitching when I was 12 and played all year.
MMN – What are your personal goals for the 2018 season?
Christian – Stay healthy, have a 3.00 era or lower, and keep my walks down.
MMN – Thanks for your time and good luck this season!
Christian – You’re welcome and thank you.