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Interview with Kurt Horne

During the June 24th game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Hudson Valley Renegades, I was on the field as my father and son threw out the first pitch.  During that time, I had the opportunity to meet Cyclones left-handed pitcher Kurt Horne.

The British Columbia native was the Mets 2014 31st round draft pick.  The tall left-hander eschewed an opportunity to pitch in college.  Instead, at the age of 17, Horne decided to not only sign with the Mets, but to move to the complete opposite end of the continent to fulfill his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player.  Horne agreed to do an interview with me to discuss his path to the Mets organization and his development in the minor leagues.

The natural question to start for someone from Canada is why baseball and not hockey?

Ha ha!  Of course, I grew up in a baseball family, I followed after my brother, doing everything he did.I also used to play in the backyard with my grandpa hitting Wiffle balls everyday after school when I was younger, so baseballs in my blood.

So at 6’5″ you were the little brother?

Well, my brother is 6 years older then me, so it took a while to catch up.

I take it your brother was a good baseball player in his own right.

Absolutely, he was a good pitcher when he was younger but grew up to be a better hitter.

You ever have a chance to pitch against him?

No, unfortunately not; it would’ve been a awesome experience.

When did you start pitching?

I was around 6 or 7 years old when I started to pitch.
How would you describe yourself as a pitcher?
Not over powering.  I’m more of a finesse pitcher. I mostly use my sinker to get weak contact and a change up to keep hitters off balance.
How have you progressed as a pitcher during your four years in the Mets organization?

I’ve learned a lot about the game: How to read hitters; how to mix my pitches better.  I’ve really learned how to actually pitch rather than just following what the catcher calls.

What are the things you need to work on to improve and help yourself get to the next level?

I need to make my delivery more consistent so I can throw strikes more consistently, and I need to be able to spin a breaking ball for a strike.  And that will help me advance.

When Mets fans hear breaking ball, they immediately think “Warthen Slider.” Is that a pitch they’ve introduced to you, or are you working on other pitches?

I haven’t worked on a slider much – really trying to focus on a short curveball that’s easier to throw.

Your pitching coach, former Met Royce Ring, used one in the majors. Is there anything particular he’s shown you to make it a more effective pitch?

We’ve just been working on making it a fastball until the last possible second and finding the right release point.

Now, you’ve had a different experience than most minor league pitchers in that you’ve had Ring as your pitching coach during different stops. How has working mostly with one person helped or hurt you?

It’s helped with getting consistent feedback.  We’re able to communicate really well now so we are both on the same page, and we know what my goals are moving forward. But being in extended spring, there’s other coaches around, so I like to here some other feedback for things to think about.

What are your goals moving forward?

To minimize my amount of walks, and do a better job of getting ahead in the count.

You’ve been predominantly used as a reliever. Do you see yourself as a reliever, or do you believe you could be a starter?

I just see myself pitching, whether it be a reliever or starter is up to the team. I feel I have the ability to do both.

Overall, who has had the biggest impact on your career?

My Parents and brother without a doubt. They push me to be better day in and day out and did everything in their power to help me get to where I am today.

Specifically, how has your family impacted you in your career as a baseball player?

My family impacted me from the beginning.  From introducing me to the sport, watching my brother playing, having my dad who studies the game more than anyone I know and my mom went everywhere I went to support me when I played.  I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family.

Outside of your family, who else has had an impact on you?

I also learned a lot from my pitching coach Marty Hall, who along with my parents helped me become who I am.

I grew up watching and then participating in his baseball clinics, he is a very close family friend who I consider to be family.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received how to succeed as a pitcher and make it to the major leagues?

Have a short memory.  Focus on one pitch at a time.  Have a routine, and most importantly, have fun.

What’s it like pitching in New York?

Pitching in Brooklyn has been amazing.  I love stadium.  The fans are all into the games, I love it!

What has been your favorite memory as a baseball player?

It’s hard to pick just one.  Playing for the Canadian junior national team was amazing, and being selected by the Mets in the first year player draft was a dream come true.

Who was your favorite player growing up?

I always wore 13 because of Billy Wagner, and I couldn’t get it with Team Canada so I wore #31. It also stuck because I’m a Jon Lester fan.

It does take courage to wear Mike Piazza‘s number in New York.  Big shoes to fill there.

Of course!  Now, when it comes to it I’ll wear 13, but I had the option so I went with it.

Last year, former Mets minor leaguer Nicco Blank made a name for himself for leaving tickets for Taylor Swift to see him pitch. What famous person would you like to come see you pitch?

Ha ha!  That’s a good question.  I’m gonna say Drake because he’s Canadian, and he’s one of my favorite artists.

On a personal note, how was my son’s first pitch?

He hit me right on the glove, so I’d say it was perfect.  Plus extra points for being left-handed.

Personally, I want to thank Horne for taking the time for this interview, and for the time he spent with my father and son when they threw out the first pitch.  For those that want to follow him, his Twitter handle is @AroundTheHorne_.

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