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Drew, congratulations on being selected by the Mets. What was your reaction when you heard you'd been picked by the Mets in the fifth round?
I was just ecstatic. The Mets have a great organization and I have a lot of family up in New York. It just couldn't be a better situation for me.
Tell me a little bit about your family up here. Are you familiar with the area?
They live in Long Island, so we go up there whenever we can and go into the city. I've actually never been to the Cyclones stadium, but we go into the city every once in a while.
Is that where you see yourself starting, in Brooklyn, assuming you sign?
I hope so. From what I've heard, it’s a fantastic place to play, and that's definitely where I'd like to start my career.
Looking back on your three years at UCF, what do you feel you've accomplished?
I got to mature, both physically and mentally. The coaches there instilled a great work ethic in me, and helped me to grow offensively and defensive. There just couldn’t be a better situation for me. I was close to home, so I got to see my family every week, plus I got Mom's home cooking, so that helped. But it worked out great for me. They gave me a chance to play as a freshman, so it helped me a lot.
How are you a different player today than you were in high school?
|YOUNG GUN: Drew Butera caught 28 of 58 (48.2%) potential base-stealers in his junior year at UCF. (Photo: University of Central Florida)|
I'm more physical. In high school, I wasn't a very physical player, I was real small. Today, I'd probably say I've grown about four or five inches from high school, and I've put on about 50 pounds. That helps me strength-wise, but I'm also a more mature player. I try to slow down the game and not rush, and I think my decision-making qualities have matured greatly from high school to today.
And that's important for someone who's about to be a professional catcher.
Definitely. Making decisions and running a pitching staff is part of what our expertise has to come with. It's part of the job. It's definitely an important part of what we do.
Your father, Sal, caught in the major leagues for nine seasons. How did that influence your development, and what were you able to take from him?
He basically taught me the tricks of the trade, everything from receiving, blocking, throwing, to calling a game. He instilled in me that running a pitching staff and your defense are second to none; that comes first, and then whatever you do offensively is a plus. They're little things that I can help myself with during a game – picking guys off, knowing what situations guys will run in, little stuff like that, plus basic fundamentals. He really let me grow from there.
Do you feel like his influence shows through in your game today?
Definitely. I've watched videos of him when he played and I kind of see myself in there; the way that I react and the way we play the game.
You grew up in Florida. Which pro baseball teams did you root for?
I haven't been a fan of the Florida teams down there, because when my dad was playing we were always involved with a team (Butera played with the Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Toronto Blue Jays from 1980-1988). Really, whatever team he was with, I was a huge fan of.
What do you know about the Mets organization?
I know they have a great program. They have a lot of young guys and a lot of veteran guys. I know they're on the up side and I just can't wait to play for them.
There was a scouting report on the Internet that compares you to Oakland A's catcher Jason Kendall. Would you agree with that?
Everything but the speed; I definitely don't have that kind of leadoff ability. You know, they compare my body style to him and the way he plays the game. He's a hard-nosed catcher and I admire him for that, and I do try to think of myself as a hard-nosed catcher too.
How did you hear you'd been selected by the Mets, and what was your immediate reaction?
I was listening to the Draft Tracker on MLB.com and as soon as they called my name, the phone rang. So my whole house was going crazy. It's been a dream come true for me. This is all the hard work and dedication I've put into this, so I've been ecstatic the whole day.
Do you have a sense on how long your contract might take with the Mets?
I think it's going to be done quickly. I'm not going to hold out or anything. I want to get out there and play and start my professional career.
Inside Pitch managing editor Bryan Hoch can be contacted at email@example.com.
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