Over the weekend Team USA catcher and Cincinnati Reds prospect Mark Kolozsvary was made available for an interview through the Reds (I did not participate in this, but it was made available to the local media after the fact). Manager of Team USA Mike Scioscia also answered a question about the catcher. I’ve transcribed the questions and answers below.
Mike Scioscia on Mark Kolozsvary
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about what Mark brings to the team?
Answer: Mark is, I’m not going to say a pleasant surprise because we know his skillset and how talented he is, but to get a kid that isn’t as experienced as some other catchers around and to have him perform as he did, I know Mark brought a lot of confidence back with him. Not only is he a terrific receiver, he understands game planning, he understands putting pitches together and made such a quick study of our pitching which was really the main reason why we were able to move forward in the qualifying. That was critical to what we did and what we wanted to do. We’ve got a lot of confidence in Mark, not only behind the plate which was the most important part that he brought, at the plate with the bat he swung the bat well and showed he’s ready for higher baseball. This guy’s definitely going to play in the Major Leagues at some point, and hopefully he’ll take this experience with him and give him a little better understand of what he needs to do when he gets that opportunity.
Question: We spoke with Scioscia and he brought up your quick study of the team’s pitching staff in the qualifiers. How did you go about learning so many new guys?
Answer: I think that’s kind of a challenge for any catcher coming into a group of new guys is learning those new guys as fast as possible. The best way I’ve kind of learned how to do it is just talking to those guys and listening to what they have to say. They know their stuff the best, so trying to take advantage of that time you can talk to each other and learn what they’re thinking so you can kind of get on the same page there. Another thing is to just catch as many bullpens as possible, kind of get a feel for those pitches so you can kind of see how they’re working and the shapes (of the pitches). As many bullpens and conversations as possible is the best way I’ve found to get acquainted with those guys.
Question: Has anyone stood out to among the pitching staff that you had a chance to catch?
Answer: I really enjoyed catching D-Rob (David Robertson) in the qualifier. That was pretty fun. He was somebody I had always watched on TV and finally getting to work with him. I thought that was a pretty cool experience for sure.
Question: Scioscia hopes this experience will help you when you get the opportunity to get into the bigs. Is this experience with Team USA helping you advance as a player?
Answer: Yeah, for sure. I’d say getting to spend all of that time in the qualifier and being around those veteran presences and kind of picking up every little thing from them and seeing how they go about their business – it’s definitely something I value very highly. Those guys are the best at what they do and anything you can pick up from those guys is very valuable.
Question: Have some of your teammates with big league experience, have they helped you with things that you can take with you as you continue to move up the ladder in your career?
Answer: For sure. We’re still playing baseball here, so it’s not like it’s anything different. We’re just playing it more high level right now and a lot more on the line. But at the end of the day it’s still baseball. So the things you pick up from here you can still take back and straight translate it to your every day playing.
Question: How is this different from a minor league season and the preparation you’d be doing versus playing on the world stage in this kind of event?
Answer: These games just mean a lot more. I feel like in the minor league season you’re kind of going game by game and just trying to check one of day by day. Here each game means a lot more. There’s a lot more at stake. All of the attention, all the details, just trying to lock in for every pitch.
Question: Have you had a chance to get to know Todd Frazier while on the team and if so, has he helped with anything?
Answer: Yeah, I got to know Todd quite a bit away from the field. Just kind of learning how he takes every day, the attention to the details that he has. We’re always making eye contact on the field and we’re looking at each other and just knowing we’re here and doing this kind of thing. Always just his attention to every play, he’s never taking a pitch off kind of thing. I think that’s really cool.
Question: What’s it been like sharing duties with Tim Federowicz?
Answer: Really good. Between every inning, or whenever I have questions – any time – he’s always open to anything I have and always very available. If he sees something he comes over to me, and in a good and respectable way he’s like “hey I see this” and always looking to help us. It’s very good and I’ve really enjoyed the experience with him.
Question: Mike (Scioscia) mentioned how important your catching was to making the team. But he also mentioned how well you swung the bat. How much was hitting a priority going into this versus your catching?
Answer: Catching’s always been one of my strengths that I’ve always kind of had. Obviously offensively is something that hasn’t been all that great in the past. I’ve been able to work on a lot of things this offseason. During quarantine I was able to go to the alternate site and work with out minor league hitting coordinator and he was really able to help me a lot. I just kind of made some adjustments to the swing and I’ve been able to make some really good progress.
Question: Can you compare Scioscia’s managing style to what you’ve seen in the Reds system?
Answer: It’s pretty similar. Both really want to win. Definitely my manager in Chattanooga right now definitely both are wanting to win every game, which I love. When you’re not playing to win, it’s not very fun. So I definitely enjoy that.
Question: How excited is your family for you? Are they excited? Nervous?
Answer: Oh yeah, they’re all very excited. I get phone calls and texts from them every day about how excited they are and they can’t wait to watch me on TV and everything.