By: Mikael Mogues
The Dog days of summer…In September….
Mets instructional league camp is under way in Port St. Lucie, Fl. All healthy players signed in the 2016 first year player draft and free agent signings are in fall camp as well as younger players drafted in 2015 and 2014. They’re invited to attend in order to develop their skills and get an understanding of what spring training will be like come February.
Nobody is more excited to get to work than Mets first round pick, Justin Dunn. Dunn signed out of Boston College in the ’16 draft as an eligible junior.
The extensive list of 58 ball players, all have their stories of how they made their way to end up at Mets Instructs. Some have been competing since College Baseball’s opening weekend, Feb 19. Since opening weekend, Justin Dunn has pitched 95.2 innings this year.
“You could say I’m physically tired, yeah, but I can’t imagine guys like (Blake) Tiberi, who play every day,” Dunn said. “College helps you to prepare to treat your body the right way. The stuff you got to do, to get your body ready to play.”
Still adjusting to the change in lifestyle, Dunn has excelled and impacted the Mets Short season A team throwing 30 innings for the Brooklyn Cyclones.
“You learn a routine, and get a better feel for what you need to do to play 5 times a week,” Dunn said. “Us college guys are used to class, eat, practice, study hall. Here, you learn how to focus and prepare yourself to play everyday.”
Making adjustments is single handedly the most important part of transitioning from college to pro ball. The Brooklyn duo of Daniel Rizzie and Dunn worked together this summer as a strong battery in Coney Island.
The greatest adjustment for Dunn has been the development of his mental game.
“A lot of the game now, is mental,” Dunn said. “Competing against professional hitters, you have to go off what you see.”
Working with Rizzie, whom earlier this year was the starting catcher for Big East champions Xavier University, they don’t use a scouting report, Primarily because they don’t have a scout yet. These hitters are new and don’t have enough information on them to create one. A lot of what is implemented is based off pitch-to-pitch adjustments.
These pros are working to make changes in the transition from collegiate, to professional baseball. The future of the Mets relies on the positive changes made within the first year of creating professional habits.
“Learning is key,” Dunn said. “You need to be a sponge, take all the advice you get and work at it religiously.”
Understanding the grind of a young minor league baseball player will provide a background for future articles posted in this section of the SS Blue and White.