Bouchard Geared Up for First Spring Training
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Mets after three solid years at Georgetown, shortstop Matt Bouchard was sent to the teamís Single-A affiliate in Brooklyn for the summer. Known for solid defensive ability and streaky hitting in college, no one knew what to expect from the Rhode Island-native in Single-A ball though.
Once the season got started however, Bouchard proved that he was an asset with the glove and cemented his spot as the teamís starting shortstop. Nonetheless, it wasnít until much later that he earned his stripes with the bat.
Getting a New York Penn-League All-Star nod in his first season in pro ball, particularly due to his work on defense, Bouchard was hitting a measly .231 at the break and looked out of place at times against tough pitching. However, through the last 29 games of the season, the six-foot, 185-pound infielder turned into a slugger, hitting .349 with 24 hits. Add in eight stolen bases and 27 RBI through 70 games and itís easy to see that Bouchard carved out a pretty solid rookie campaign for himself.
ďAs the season went on last year, I got really comfortable with my game,Ē Bouchard said. ďThatís what I always really intend to do. I want to leave the season a better ball player and in a better situation than I was in before. Last year, I think I did that and I was happy with what I accomplished.Ē
He even managed to hit his first professional home run on Aug. 25 against Vermont with is father in attendance. To make the accolade an even more memorable one, it was also his fatherís birthday.
ďHe still talks about it in front of his friends every once in a while,Ē Bouchard said. ďItís still quite a conversational piece.Ē
As the season came to an end, it was obvious that Bouchard was extremely comfortable playing in Brooklyn. On the field, he was maintained his season-long consistency with the glove, while working longer counts and getting big hits down the stretch. In the clubhouse, he developed into one of the most media-savvy players on the team and a favorite amongst fans. Immensely enjoying his time in Brooklyn last season, Bouchard canít wait to see his former teammates at Spring Training.
ďThe organization told us from day one that we were to conduct ourselves as professionals and I think we did that on and off the field,Ē said Bouchard. ďI had so much fun playing with those guys last season. Everyone got a long and we won a lot of games. It was really special being part of a team that managed to gel together so quickly. Itís going to be fun seeing them in spring training.Ē
Despite the fond memories he has of his first season in Brooklyn though, Bouchard is ready to move on to the next stage of his career and is ready to prove himself as a valued commodity in the organization. Nevertheless, he did admit to being a little nervous about his first Spring Training.
ďSure, there are butterflies, but I know whatís going to be expected of me,Ē he said. ďI just have to go out there and do my best when Iím called upon. Thatís really all I can do. Iím going to try my hardest to make a team out of camp and be an everyday player. I think I get that done if I stay healthy and focused. Iíve worked really hard this offseason and Iím ready to get started.Ē