Maui's Mochizuki finally gets call from Mets


POSTED: Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gered Mochizuki was in his last year of fun and games.

Then the New York Mets decided they needed a middle infielder and trolled the Frontier League for talent. Mochizuki, who prepped at Baldwin on Maui, had his contract bought by the Mets on Wednesday and started at shortstop for the Kingsport (Tenn.) Mets of the Appalachian League on Friday.

“;If it wasn't going to be this year, it was going to be over,”; Mochizuki said.

Mochizuki was playing for the Southern Illinois Miners in the independent Frontier League.

His debut for a major league affiliate was nothing like he hoped, though. Mochizuki went 0-for-3 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts and made an error.

“;Not too good tonight,”; Mochizuki said. “;But that's just baseball.”;

It was also an education for Mochizuki, who graduated from Baldwin in 2003 and starred at Central Missouri, but has spent the last two years in independent leagues. Mochizuki was slotted in the second spot in the batting order and stepped in against fellow free-agent pickup Jorge Almanzar. Almanzar is in his third year of pitching in the low minors and brought something Mochizuki had not seen for a long time: the heat.

“;These guys throw pretty hard, the guy tonight was throwing 90-92, you don't see that in independent league,”; Everybody here throws hard, we've got guys throwing 97. It's no problem, though. You just have to swing earlier.”;

Mochizuki shook off the collar in his second game last night, singling to center field off Chase Phillips in his third at-bat. Mochizuki then drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning with a double to left field with the bases loaded.

Now it is up to Mochizuki, 23, to earn a job for next year. He is starting in Rookie ball, where it will be either move up a level or go home and hope he impressed an opponent willing to take him on. He was the oldest player on the field in his debut, and major league franchises aren't in the habit of keeping 24-year-olds in rookie ball.

“;It's a shot,”; Mochizuki said. “;It is more than I ever expected.”;