3/15/09

Mets Prospect - P - Nick Abel

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Nick Abel P R R 6-4 200 2-18-83

Abel played college ball at Stony Brook University, where he was 2-2 (1.69) with 3 saves in 17 appearances in his last year. He appeared in 18 games in his junior year, walking only 8 batters in 29.2 innings. He led his team in 2004 in ERA, with a 2.28 in 17 appearances. Abel played center field in high school with fellow Met prospect, Joe Holden.

He was signed by the Mets in May 2006 as an un-drafted free agent. He started in Brooklyn (0-2, 3.07, 1.09) but moved on the Hagerstown in July 1-1, 1.35, 1.15). His combined record in 2006, playing for 3 teams (Stony Brook, Brooklyn & Hagerstown) was 22 appearances, 0 starts, 1-3, 2.11, & 1.14. OnDeck gave him a 124.44 rating for his work in the Sally League, on 7-26-06.

In 2007, Abel had an outstanding year for St. Lucie, going 2-3, 2.37, 1.23, in 42 relief appearances.

Mack’s Prospect List in July 2007:

19. RP Nick Abel - currently' Abel is putting up the best relief numbers in the Mets minor league system. That earns him a place on my list anytime.


TC Palm in July 2007:

Entering his senior year of high school, Nick Abel did not have the best baseball background. The current St. Lucie Mets relief pitcher did not make the team at Wantagh High School in New York during his sophomore year and played sparingly his junior season — spending most of his time as an outfielder. Abel was a strong soccer player and his parents — natives of what is now the Czech Republic — didn't know much about baseball. "They learned as I learned," Abel said. Abel learned quickly, with the help of pitching coach Bob Teinert, who helped Abel after his junior season. Abel, who now stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds, converted to pitching and was an effective starter his senior season. After high school, Abel went to pitch for Stony Brook University in New York. In just his second game, Abel was sent to the bullpen, where he quickly became a closer. "It was at San Francisco State University," Abel said. "The eighth inning came and (the coach) was like, 'You're in.' I was a little bit nervous." But that nervousness helped him. "I pitch a little better when I have a little edge to me," Abel said. "As a closer, you have to go with your gut. As a closer, I felt comfortable." Abel does not walk many batters (just 16 compared to 27 strikeouts this year) and has not given up a home run in the past two seasons. He has a 2-1 record this year with a 2.50 ERA and five saves through Saturday. "So far, we've had some ups and downs," Abel said. "I think we're going to have a good second half."

In 2008, he pitched for Binghamton, St. Lucie, and Savannah, with combined stats of 4-3, 5.17 in 33 relief appearances.

A Q&A with my Savannah newspaper in 2008:

SMN: When you came to Savannah, you had never seen the field before. How was it?

NA: The mound was pretty good. They do a pretty good job. I'm used to pitching late in the game anyway. The mound is always going to be somewhat torn up.

SMN: People probably don't think about that.

NA: You've got two starters going five or six innings. If it's a lefty and a righty, they're going to stand on opposite sides of the mound. There are two holes basically set for them. You might have a little window of dirt in the middle. You don't usually stand right in the middle. For me, I have to find a spot.

SMN: What's the creative license for doing a little gardening out there?

NA: You can manicure it a little bit. If it's loose dirt, you're going to cover it up and it's going to come right out after one pitch. If it's clay, you can mold it a little bit.

SMN: If you bring out your own tool set, it's a no-no. They'd frown upon it.

NA: They usually don't let you come out with what they call a tamp to pound it out. I'd love to do that. I've got to have a consistent mound. Next time I re-sign my contract, I want to make sure I have that in there.

SMN: You've played all over the Mets' farm system this season. Why is that?

NA: This year I went through spring training and started up in Binghamton, N.Y., which is Double A. In spring training, I had an injury that I didn't know was an injury. I had a little tightness in my back. Everyone goes through a certain amount of tightness at one point in their career. You fight through it. I pitched through it. I went up to Binghamton, where it was 25 degrees. You're shivering in the bullpen in freezing rain.

SMN: You're going through extremes.

NA: Yeah. In my head, it's not going to loosen up too well with the weather how it is. We had a warm day and I went out there and threw, and it still didn't feel right. So I told the trainer. He evaluated me. He said he would talk to somebody, and they said they would send me down to Florida to get some work down there. They have the rehab facility down there as well. The first game in St. Lucie, they wanted to see if the warm weather helped. It didn't help at all. So I went on the (disabled list) for a little bit. It was the first time I was on the DL in my career. I didn't know what to expect. I was there for a couple of weeks. They called me up and said you're going to go to Savannah and pitch there for however long. Now I'm here.

SMN: It sounds like you need to be somewhere for more than a month. It's hard to judge anything.

NA: Since February, I've moved from New York down to Florida for spring training back to New York in Binghamton, then back to Florida, and then over here.

SMN: Abel sounds like a good, confident name, Mr. Able.

NA: There have been a lot of newspaper articles using my name.

SMN: What are the best and worst puns?

NA: "Ready, willing and Abel." I've heard that like a hundred times. The name is a Czech name. My parents emigrated from Czechoslovakia. It's actually pronounced "Ah-bell."

SMN: How do they pronounce it on Long Island?

NA: "A-bull."

SMN: How do you pronounce it?

NA: When I'm with my family, it's "Ah-bell." That's how you pronounce the letter (A) in that language. In the U.S., in the English language, it's "A-bull."

SMN: Have you thought about playing overseas later in your career?

NA: I went to Prague this off-season. I have family over there. For me, right now, I'm going to give this a try and hopefully everything goes in the right direction. I'll play here. For me, if this isn't a career for me, I have my education. I got my degree and I have a couple of other things I'd like to do once baseball is said and done.

SMN: You were a health science major at Stony Brook (N.Y.) University. What did you want to use that degree for?

NA: Originally, I wanted to be a veterinarian. After like the first two years, I was a biology major. Then I switched over to athletic training. They changed some requirements on it. I was going to have to take so many more credits than I really needed to. My mentality was, if I'm going to take so many credits, they'd better be graduate credits, not undergraduate.

SMN: You eventually got your degree in health science.

NA: It's a great choice. Once I got into the health science program, I wanted to get into physical therapy. It's great because the classes I took my senior year were in the hospitals. I graduated in 2006. I'm still certified to be an EMT. I had some hours in the ER and in the ambulance. It was a really good experience.

That's not the profession I was thinking of going into. From there, I was getting involved in my own diet and workout programs. I really got interested in writing up diets for kids.

SMN: Are you going to be a dietician, a nutritionist? Are you going to be like Richard Simmons and have your own industry?

NA: A lot of people joke around with me and call me John Basedow. He's the guy on TV who's the next Richard Simmons. He does Fitness Made Simple. I've written up a lot of diets for coaches and players.

SMN: It must be difficult to stick to a diet plan. There's a lot of drive-through in your future.

NA: I'm always the guy, when they bring out hamburgers for spreads, I'm like, what's going on here. We're athletes.

SMN: You have to pick and choose the healthiest items.

NA: If you're somebody who's watching a game, you can indulge in a hot dog and whatever else they sell at the stadium. If you're an athlete, you need to take care of your body and put the right type of food in it. We do high-intensity workouts. You should have protein-rich food and a lot of vitamins and nutrients you can use, not nutrients that are going to harm your body.

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