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Continuing to mature: Frenzel never stops learning, growing in New York Mets' minor league system

Courtesy Photo by Fred Devyatkin Cole Frenzel, a Dickinson High School graduate, stands in the batters box as a part of the New York Mets' Class A affiliate the Savannah Sand Gnats (Ga.).

New York Mets minor-league infielder and Dickinson High School graduate Cole Frenzel didn't waste any time making it down the spring training facilities in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The Mets' seventh-round draft choice in 2011 arrived at the facilities on February 1.

And he's sure glad he did.

Frenzel was able to gather big-league advice with some seasoned Major League veterans.

"Being out there that early, I got to take groundballs with David Wright at third, Ike Davis at first and take batting practice with those guys," Frenzel said. "You get to ask them what's their approach, how they've done it for so long and just pick their brains. It was a great experience for me."

Since Frenzel was drafted out of the University of Arizona after his sophomore year, he has been able to play alongside four-time All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes during a rehabilitation stint with the Class A short-season Brooklyn (N.Y.) Cyclones. Frenzel caught rides home from the practice facilities with four-time All-Star Johan Santana and recently snagged groundballs with six-time All-Star Wright, who signed an eight-year, $138 million contract extension this summer.

The lesson Frenzel and teammate Phillip Evans took away from each one of those experiences is to ask questions. They said each major league has a different experience to share.

"That's definitely a plus to get out there early," said Evans, who was the Mets' 15th round pick in 2011. "I suggest it to anybody who is in professional baseball to get out their early and pick the major leaguer's brain a little bit."

During his first full season in the Mets minor league system, Frenzel bounced from the Cyclones to Class A Savannah (Ga.) Sand Gnats. He started the season in Savannah, but was moved to Brooklyn once the short season started.

It didn't take Frenzel long until he called Savannah home again. During the 19 games with the Cyclones, Frenzel was on a tear. He batted .342 with four doubles, two triples, one home run and 13 RBIs including a .410 on-base percentage.

Though Frenzel didn't find the same success in Savannah, he felt he was seeing the ball well. And he was.

Despite a .204 average in 162 at bats, he struck out 31 times -- a strikeout around every five at bats, which is about the major league average.

"That's why baseball is such a funny game," Frenzel said. "You can hit a ball on the screws and hit a line drive right at somebody or you can get a broken bat single. That's why baseball is misleading at times, but over the course of an entire season with 400 or 500 at bats it starts evening out."

To go along with the .204 average he had 11 doubles, three home runs and 15 walks with 11 RBIs. He also only committed three errors at first base in 346 chances for a .991 fielding percentage.

"I felt like a saw the ball well," Frenzel said. "I was hitting the ball hard. I just wasn't getting a lot of hits. I definitely learned a lot last year. You are learning every single day."

Familiar faces

Now that Frenzel has been to Port St. Lucie multiple times -- before he went to Brooklyn in the middle of the 2011 season, last year's and this year's spring training -- he's more familiar with the Mets personnel.

"Last year was my first spring training, so I'm just learning how things go, learning the system, how spring training works and what you need to do to get yourself prepared," Frenzel said. "In the second year, you kind of have a feel for everything."

The spring training facility isn't just about fine-tuning abilities, but a chance to see and visit with present or former teammates.

Frenzel lives with Evans, Kevin Plawecki and Brandon Nimmo during spring training. Evans, who was drafted out of La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, Calif., said Frenzel works incredibly hard in the diamond, but he's also a great friend.

"He's definitely has all the good qualities you look for in a teammate," Evans said. "He's fun to be around, he's a player you can talk to and he's got the power to hit it out of the ballpark. There's really no better teammate than Cole. I love to have him as my first baseman. I'd pick him over anybody else."

Nimmo, the Mets' first overall pick in the 2011 draft, is from Cheyenne, Wyo., and he and Frenzel immediately shared the Midwest connection. Nimmo made his first visit to Dickinson this past winter to go deer bowhunting with Frenzel.

"I think guys gravitate toward guys who are from around their same area," Nimmo said. "This past offseason Cole invited me to come on up. I came up to Dickinson for 10 days. It was a good time for us to get baseball off of our minds. We're going at it hard for 10 months and you just need a little mental break from it."

Evans and Nimmo spent last year in Brooklyn helping the Class A short-season affiliate to a 45-31 overall record. Evans supplied a .252 batting average, eight doubles, five home runs and one triple with 29 RBIs in 73 games. Nimmo provided a boost of power with a .248 average, 20 doubles, six home runs and two triples with a team-high 40 RBIs. The next closest to Nimmo for RBIs in Brooklyn was Evans.

"Last season was really productive," Nimmo said. "I had a lot of learning to do. The New York-Penn League was a really big jump for me. I just did a lot of learning. I made a lot of strides last year that were really beneficial for me. There was a lot of failure on how not to do some things, but I think last year was all-in-all a pretty productive season for me."

The next destination

Frenzel will start the 2013 minor-league season with the Sand Gnats. He's also been moved from first base to third base.

The Sand Gnats newest third baseman is excited for the upcoming baseball season to start.

"All the work you put into the offseason preparing your body, all the extra hitting and everything you've done, now it's time to let your work take care of itself," Frenzel said.

Evans knows the work put in the offseason and during spring training is of the upmost importance, but he's excited to get back on the field.

"Cole and I have been preparing all throughout spring training," Evans said. "We got out here early -- before everyone else -- we've put in some solid work. We're just ready to get the season going and have fun on the baseball field."