Say this for Matt Bouchard – he certainly knows how to handle disappointment.
After struggling at Double-A Binghamton, batting .155 in 15 games, he was reassigned. Not to Triple-A. Not even to high or medium Single-A. He was sent to Brooklyn, to short-season ball with the Cyclones, the place he went after he was drafted out of Georgetown by the Mets in the 11th round of the 2007 draft.
“It was definitely a surprise,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
He has certainly looked prepared.
The reigning New York-Penn League Player of the Week, Bouchard is hitting a team-high .429 with eight RBIs and 14 runs scored. He has five two-hit games and one four-hit performance, a credit, he said, to the relationship he has developed with hitting coach Jack Voigt, who played parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues.
“We understand each other, which is unique,” he said. “It feels good to be here.”
It wasn’t the company line. Bouchard, 22, enjoys Brooklyn; he knows it well, having spent some time with the Cyclones in each of three years of pro ball.
“I definitely love Brooklyn,” said the 6-foot, 185-pound Bouchard, who was a New York-Penn League All-Star in 2007. “I love the stadium and I love the fans. There’s no place like it in the minor leagues.”
Bouchard would know. This is his third stop already this season – besides the 15 games with Binghamton, he was with high Single-A Port St. Lucie for 43 games, batting .243 in 153 at-bats. He was with Savannah and Brooklyn in 2008.
A nod toward that experience is one reason the Mets sent Bouchard to Brooklyn, first-year manager Pedro Lopez said. The team’s elder statesman, Bouchard has become a leader for the young Cyclones, the player everyone goes to for advice. He is asked about the life of a pro player from the team’s many rookies, what the different levels are like, and the best way to achieve success.
“I’ve asked him 20 to 30 questions,” said outfielder Nick Santomauro, the Mets’ 10th round choice out of Dartmouth. “I try to suck information out of him.”
Said first baseman Sam Honeck, a 11th-round pick from Tulane: “He’s kind of been our mentor for the first-year guys.”
The versatile Bouchard, who has played third base, shortstop and second base for Brooklyn, is happy to give back. He remembers his first year in Brooklyn – the nerves and anxiousness. He looked up to the veterans, picked their brain and they responded.
“It’s cool being that guy,” Bouchard said.
His advice is generally simple: relax. He imparts wisdom on eating healthy and being prepared to play every day. The same thing that made you successful, he tells his new teammates, will continue to help you flourish.
“Be confident in yourself,” Santomauro said is one thing Bouchard often repeats to him.
Said Lopez: “He’s our quiet leader. If Matt stays here with us all year, I won’t complain.”
That, unfortunately for the Cyclones, isn’t likely.
Bouchard has been told very little about his imminent future. He doesn’t know if he will remain a Cyclone for another week, let alone another day. He isn’t expected to be here too much longer, however. He was brought in to stabilize the team, and Brooklyn is looking pretty stable, sitting atop the McNamara Division at 8-2, four games clear of Aberdeen, Hudson Valley and Staten Island.
“We,” Lopez said, “will miss him.”
©2009 Community News Group
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