Listen in for a quick chat I recently had with Mets minor league lefty and 2010 organizational pitcher of the year, Mark Cohoon. Obviously, Cohoon had an outstanding 2010 season; he spent his first half blowing away South Atlantic League hitters to the tune of a 1.30 ERA, including a record three straight shutouts in June. Following the all-star break he was promoted to Binghamton -- skipping Hi-A -- and though he struggled out of the gates, he finished the year with a 1.65 ERA in his final seven starts.
I must say, Cohoon seems like a very bright kid and was one of the better interviews of all the guys I spoke to because it sounds like he really understands the art of pitching. He effectively articulates how he sets up batters, he was extremely comfortable discussing the nuts and bolts of his pitching style and he's even a pitching coach during his offseasons for god's sake! So click the 'Play' button below to hear our chat.
Click past the break for the transcript of our chat:
Rob: I wanted to first ask you what was your offseason like?
Cohoon: In the offseason I actually give pitching lessons to young guys anywhere from 8 to 12, in that age range. And when I'm not doing that I'm training and getting ready for the season. That's basically what my offseason consists of.
Rob: Looking back to 2010 a little bit, obviously it was a great year for you. You won the Sterling Award as the organizational Pticher of the Year which must have been a huge honor for you...
Cohoon: Yeah, it was. It was a good note to end on and hopefully I can continue what I started last year tith that award, knowing that I'm only going to have to work twice as hard this year in order to even get close to the performance I had last year. And at a higher level...competition gets stiffer as it gets higher.
Rob: Now going into that a little bit you started your year in Savannah, obviously you were dominant down there; I think you ended your run with three straight shutouts. And then you made the jump up to Binghamton. Was that a difficult jump to make what with the different levels of hitters and that sort of thing?
Cohoon: The jump itself wasn't difficult as far as being able to be the same pitcher, but the hard part was the hitters. In Low-A you can get away with throwing something in the dirt and get them to swing at it, chasing things out of the zone. The Double-A guys are a lot more patient, quite a bit smarter and most of them have enough talent to play in the big leagues. That was the hardest part, realizing that they were better. But once I stopped giving them too much credit and stuck to my game plan it started to change for me.
Rob: Right, towards the end of the season at Binghamton, you really got on a run and it reflected in your numbers. And it's like you said, it sounds like you really adjusted to the level and adjusted to the hitters.
Cohoon: Yes. Toward the end I got back to my game plan similar to what I'd had in Savannah: I had to throw more strikes with my offspeed pitches. That was probably one of the biggest things that I had to learn to do was to be able to throw them for a strike in any count. Once I did that, that helped me but the key was getting back on my game plan. Attacking them with my fastball, getting ahead of every batter and then being able to put them away.
Rob: Now looking forward towards 2011 a little bit, what's the feeling like with the season starting knowing that you're getting closer now. You're not quite on the doorstep but you're really close now. Anxious? Excited? What's the feeling?
Cohoon: I'm always excited to play baseball, no matter where I'm at. Those are things I can't control, the only thing I can control is how well I play. So that's the key to focus on. It is easy to focus on where you're going or where you want to be even when you're not there yet. But that's kind of been a good testament to guys who do well, They don't worry about who's in front of them or behind them. If you can control what you can control, then usually things will go in your favors. And if they don't, you just keep playing hard and working hard.
Rob: One more thing I wanted to ask you about, obviously you're not one these guys gifted with a 95mph fastball or anything like that but scouts always say that one of the things that jumps out at them is your, i guess you can call it pitching IQ, your poise on the mound. Is that something that you focus on?
Cohoon: Definitely. One thing I've learned is that baseball is 10% physical and 90% mental. So I relied on my athletics ability to get me through high school and then I got to college and I learned how to play the game as a student. And once I learned that I can use my brain to my best ability, it's going to help me succeed. And I've been around some good coaches, I've been blessed with some good coaches in this organization and they've taught me a lot. Just how to be a professional, how to pitch like a professional. And that's one thing I've noticed, You take guys like Greg Maddux, mentally he was the most well prepared in the game...
Rob: The professor, they called him.
Cohoon: Exactly. He was, hands-down, an artist. And so that's the type of guy I have to model myself after. Not a power pitcher but a finesse pitcher.