PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Mets camp, it was New York's No. 14 prospect, Anthony Kay.Kay led the University of Connecticut's rotation as a
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Mets camp, it was New York's No. 14 prospect, Anthony Kay.
Kay led the University of Connecticut's rotation as a junior in 2016, pitching his way onto the first-round landscape and looking very much like a potential quick-to-the-big-leagues college left-hander. The Mets ultimately took Kay at the end of the first round that June, and then signed him for below his suggested slot value after it was learned that the southpaw needed Tommy John surgery. After making a healthy return to the mound last fall during instructional league, Kay is poised to throw the first competitive pitches of his professional career in '18.
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MLB Pipeline: Did you consider signing with the Mets when they drafted you in the 39th round out of high school?
Kay: I did a little bit, but I decided that I wanted to go to school first, experience it and try to get better as better and hopefully get drafted three years later.
MLB Pipeline: How do you feel like you improved during your three seasons at UConn?
Kay: I definitely improved a lot, and I definitely needed it. I don't think I would have been ready to go straight into pro ball out of high school at 18 years old. I probably gained about 40 pounds when I went to UConn -- coming out of high school, I was about 160 pounds soaking wet.
MLB Pipeline: So you go to school, and then three years later became a Mets Draft pick, only this time as a first-rounder. What was that experience like?
Kay: It was awesome. I had my whole family there and a couple friends. It was great to celebrate with them and have everyone around me for it.
MLB Pipeline: You ended up needing Tommy John surgery after signing, before taking the mound as a professional. Did that bring you back down to earth a bit? How did you deal with that experience.
Kay: It wasn't a fun process that I had to go through, but I definitely came out stronger from that. I had a whole year to reflect on it, and I definitely got better as a result -- sitting out and watching baseball.
MLB Pipeline: What did you learn about yourself during that time off?
Kay: I didn't really do much arm care in college, just the normal stuff. But going through the rehab made me realize how much you need to do to take care of your arm and body.
MLB Pipeline: Do you find a silver lining in this happening at the outset of your pro career?
Kay: Nowadays, it seems like [Tommy John surgery] is happening to everyone, so I think it probably was better to do it now before I started pro ball and got going. It would have been tough getting halfway into my career or something and then having that happen.
MLB Pipeline: I know you recently got on the mound and pitched to batters for the first time in, well, a while. How's everything going this spring? What additional steps do you still need to make in your rehab and recovery?
Kay: I'm fully good to go, feeling stronger than ever. I'm just excited for the season to get going, finally, and for me to pitch in games. [The Mets] have done a good job treating me this spring like I'm just a normal person, but if they see something, they definitely will slow me down. So far I've been good to go and haven't had many complaints.
MLB Pipeline: What are you most looking forward to this year?
Kay: I just want to throw, man. I want to log some innings and stay healthy, really.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.