Zapata Working On It All

Zapata has been one of the system's projects

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - One of the more notable organizational prospects in recent years has been that of St. Lucie outfielder Pedro Zapata. The fourth-year has compiled a slow but steady movement up the ladder all with the hope that it will all click after late start to his career. Inside PItch caught up Zapata who spoke about how he works to improve ever facet of his game.

Pedro Zapata has been steadily climbing the ranks of the Mets farm system during his four year career. His current stop is with the St. Lucie club, and he's doing his part to help the struggling team get back on its feet. He's batting .282 on the season with 123 hits and 47 RBI between his stops in Savannah and now with the Advanced-A Mets.

"Being a contact hitter, I have to have a good eye for the ball. I'm not going to hit home runs, but I can hit it into the gaps and really direct where the ball is going to go," Zapata explained through the assistance Rafael Fernandez translating.

"I have very quick hands and that really helps me as a batter. I can catch up to pitches easier then most guys because of my swing."

Even with his success, Zapata has some admiration for the opposing pitching he faces every night.

"The consistency is so much better, they are more polished at this level," He said. "They have better command here, so I have to be ready to swing early. By the time you actually swing you're really on time even though you think you're swinging early. It plays with your mind some before you get used to it, but the results are there."

Zapata has a familiar face in the clubhouse in Rafael Fernandez. The two players have climbed the ranks together since joining up in Kingsport two seasons ago. Both Fernandez and Zapata are outfielders and they've grown accustomed to the other's presence on defense.

"We are both relaxed and are very comfortable with each other in the outfield. I can cover a lot of ground and so can he so we both feed of the others confidence," Zapata stated.

Outfielders have to be able to cover a large span of the field, consistency throw guys out, and have an uncanny ability to anticipate where the ball is going to be hit to. Zapata believes he posses those attributes, and understands that improving them will only help his climb up the ladder.

"Being out of position even in the littlest bit can kill you in the outfield. Being fundamentally sound on defense is important, along with having good instincts and speed. I need to work some on my footwork, but over all I'm happy with the progress I'm making here on defense," he quoted.

Throwing out base runners for an outfielder is a mix of an imperfect science and an art form. Each player has his own strategy on how to accomplish this important task and Pedro gave us some insight on how he gets it done.

"When the batter comes up we always look to see their stats and how many steals they have on a season. It gives us a heads up that if he gets on base we need to keep an eye on him if someone else hits a single or double," Zapata divulged.

"It's no so much that he can steal a base, but it shows us he has speed and will round the bases quicker than some of the other players." He's not only concerned with his opponents stolen bases; Zapata does his fair share of stealing himself. He has 32 steals on the season and looks to improve that number going into the last few weeks of the season.

"Watching a pitchers tendencies is huge when getting ready to steal. You have to have their timing down. You need to find holes in their mannerisms," he exclaimed.

Zapata is relatively new to the game of baseball. He started playing at age 12 in his homeland of the Dominican Republic. The lanky right-hander used his size and speed to get him where he is today.

"I started when I was 12 and I've gotten this far with what many people say is a late start. I love this game, its really special to me," He described. "I didn't play organized baseball until I was like 17 or so, we didn't really have a high school team or anything like that."

The coaches have been impressed with him so far, and only have some small bits of advice for Pedro as the season winds down.

"The coaches want me to work on my consistency on both sides of the ball. Being a good batter does not always make you a good baseball player, you have to be well rounded to move up," Zapata finished.

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