Twenty Questions with Bobby Malek

In the first of what we hope will be a series of features, NYF presents "20 Questions" a chance for NYF's users to interact with a Mets' prospect, in this case outfielder Bobby Malek, ask him questions, and get answers.

Malek started the season in Cap City before being promoted to St. Lucie at the end of May, and spent the rest of the season primarily playing RF and batting third during the St. Lucie Mets Championship run.

Bobby Malek was the Mets 2nd pick (4th round) of the 2002 June draft. Malek was drafted with a known injury that curtailed his play in 2002, but bounced back with a terrific season in 2003. The rightfielder from Michigan is an excellent linedrive hitter, hits for average, has base stealing speed, and has impressive gap power that should improve as he develops.















St. Lucie













Capital City

























Now, without further ado, lets play 20 Questions. :)

NYF: Could you tell us about Michigan St., your time playing there, experiences, and things you learned playing there?

Malek: I loved Michigan State University, I grew up as a Spartan fan, and it was great to have an opportunity to play for them. It was an unbelievable experience to actually take part in the big time college rivalry with The University of Michigan, with all the history between the two schools it made for a very exciting weekend.

NYF: Tell us how you felt on draft day since you were probably sitting in limbo not really knowing when, where or to whom you would go because of your injury?

Malek: Yeah, it was a very different experience for me since I had no idea how the injury would effect me in the draft. I was listening to the draft on the computer and I have to say I was pleasantly surprise at how early I got picked, but I was just happy that the Mets gave me an opportunity to continue to play the game I love.

NYF: How is your arm now and how did it hold up/hold you back during this season?

Malek: I would say my elbow is 100% now since my Tommy John surgery. I was very lucky that I never had any major set backs with the rehab program, and I was very fortunate to be able to get back into games after only about 7 1/2 months. I was held back for the first few weeks of spring training, but after that I was able to join in on all the drills and play limited innings. Then once May 1st came, I was starting to play everyday and it was holding up so I just went ahead and never looked back.

NYF: What was it like last year playing for Brooklyn considering all the pressure that is put on that team to be successful, and some of the "issues" that went on there last year?

Malek: Brooklyn is a very special place to play, the fans are great and the stadium and media attention was not something every first year minor league ballplayer gets to experience. I just think I put too much pressure on myself to prove to everybody in the organization that I know how to play, instead of doing what I do best and just relaxing and having fun playing the game. It was tough to separate the excitement of the situation and the job you have to do. And when things started to go bad, it snowballed for me. But it's a learning process that takes time. I was very happy I had that experience and hopefully my next trip to NYC brings more hits and the championship that the city and its fans want.

NYF: How is it to get instruction and advice from Howard Johnson? Is there anything in particular that he has taught you or that you have taken from him personally?

Malek: Ho Jo is great. It means a lot when a guy like that, who has been to the peak of this game gives you advice or encouragement or just sits down to talk with you about what is going on. Ho Jo has been with me ever since I got drafted, so we have been through some ups and downs in the first two years of my career, but the thing I take away from him the most is just how he stresses how to go about your business, whether you are hitting well at the time or not, the way you act on the field as a "professional" is just as important as how you play. Nobody is gonna feel sorry for you when you're down, so you can't feel sorry for yourself, you just have to go out there and play hard every pitch. And obviously working on the mechanics of my swing in the cages and the mental part of having a plan and executing it, though out the season is a great aide to have in him. Also, I think it is pretty special that the Mets have a lot of former big league players now working with the minor league players, but at the same note I think all of the coaches that I have worked with have really done a great job helping me in my career. I loved working with Donovan Mitchell, he really does work hard and understands how to get across what he wants you to get.

NYF: Considering that the OF in the Mets minors is considered thin on talent do you feel there is more of an opportunity to make it to Shea one day and perhaps quicker then expected?

Malek: Many people have said that about the outfield situation in the Mets farm system, but I don't necessarily agree with that, I think we have a lot of quality players here. And the only thing that I can control is how well I play, and the way I go about my business. I believe that I will get my chance one day, so I just have to keep working hard and hopefully I will be in the right situation soon.

NYF: Do you think you will be able to drive the ball more for Doubles and/or HRs now that your arm has had a full year to be completely healed?

Malek: I think having a chance to work with the weights will help me drive the ball to all fields. I was just happy to be playing again last year that I didn't worry about power numbers and not being able to train with the heavy weights played a part in me getting tried at the end of the season. So hopefully that will be solved this winter with me getting stronger and the results will follow.

NYF: Do you expect playing in a hitter friendly ballpark in Binghamton will also help the power numbers?

Malek: Well hopefully I get an opportunity to start the year there. But the main thing with me is I think I struck out too much last year, if I can cut down on the strikeouts and with the weight training I think my power numbers will go up wherever I play. But playing in Binghamton might help a little, if it really is as friendly to hitters as everybody says.

NYF: Do you have any pregame rituals that you run through before a game or superstitions?

Malek: I think that most Baseball players are superstitious. I know when I am going good, I really try not to mess with things, I end up doing the same things I did the day before when I had that good game, whether it be the my routine in the cages, with soft toss or tee work, and it even carries over to the number of card games I play in the clubhouse. I also try and dress the same way as I did the day before. I have routines that I just try not to mess with.

NYF: Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up? Maybe a guy you pattern yourself after today?

Malek: I really never had a favorite team growing up, I think I root for the underdog a lot. But growing up being from Detroit, I used to love going down to Tiger Stadium to watch games, but they didn't win enough for me to call them my favorite team.

NYF: In the last year since you have been drafted I have heard comparison of your play to J.D. Drew, what do you think of the comparison?

Malek: Anytime you are compared to a Big Leaguer it is a huge compliment, especially when you are compared to somebody who has as much talent as J.D. Drew. But I don't try and mold my game to any one player. I just go out there and play the way I like to play, and that is all out all the time. I just love to go out and play this game, and hopefully I get a few hits along the way.

Bobby Malek
Bobby Malek: Quietly stole 28 bases in 2003.
NYF: If you had to describe your style of play to someone who has never seen you how would you describe it?

Malek: Well, I think you can just look at me after a game is over and tell if I had a good game or not. If my uniform is all dirty, then more times than not I had a good game. I like to play hard, and if I get on base, with either a walk or a hit, I am looking for an opportunity to steal a base, and looking to score. In the outfield I like to play with that same aggression, I pride myself on not just good offensive numbers, I like making plays in the outfield, and I love to throw guys out.

NYF: Is there any sport other than baseball you enjoy playing when you get the chance?

Malek: I am really starting to love golf. I look forward to getting a chance to get out on the course to play some golf. And being from Detroit, in the winter time I love watching the Red Wings.

NYF: Classic Michigan question: Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, or Eminem?

Malek: Kid Rock

NYF: What does the Mets' organization expect from you in terms of when you should be ready for Shea? Do they communicate a specific timetable or expectations that they have for you?

Malek: I really don't have a specific date that they communicate to me as when they want me to be ready. I think that just plays itself out. You as a player have no control over that, so you just have to go out and do your job to the best of your ability and hope that one day you get that opportunity to realize your dreams. Just as an example, I had no idea until the last week of Spring Training that I was going to go to Cap City, and I knew two days before hand that I was getting moved up to St. Lucie, so you can't concern yourself with anything but going out and playing baseball the best you can, and hope that they see it and move you up.

NYF: Other than managers and coaches, do you speak regularly with anyone in the organization (e.g., Kevin Morgan, Gary LaRocque, Jim Duquette, etc.)?

Malek: Everybody in the organization is very good about treating you with respect and I seem to find myself in conversation with the people in the Front Office anytime that they are in town, they are very personable and I think that says a lot about the type of organization the Mets are running. And that can be seen anywhere in the organization from Mr. Wilpon right on down.

NYF: Who are some of the guys in the Mets system that you've played with that you think are no-brainers to become Major Leaguers? Who are the best pitchers and players you've played with?

Malek: Well I think I have played with some very good talented players. I was taking some extra BP off of our pitchers right before the playoffs and I couldn't believe how much more movement and control that our pitchers had versus the other pitchers that I had been facing all year. Obviously Petey (Matt Peterson) led our pitching staff, but what impressed me was that he has a great head on his shoulders, he is a good kid who with the stuff he has and his work ethic, he will be a very good pitcher for many years to come. And as for the hitters, I think watching D Wright helped me out a lot. The way he went about his business on and off the field was amazing, he put up some impressive numbers despite the opposing pitchers not giving him too much to hit. He hung in there during a little slump in July, but when it came time for him to deliver he carried our offense in the playoffs.

NYF: What are the biggest differences in the level of competition from Division I baseball to pro ball, and then from Brooklyn to Cap City, and Cap City to St. Lucie?Mbr<
Malek: I think each level you move up the pitching is going to be better. Pitchers have better stuff and they have better control of where they want to throw their pitches. And a big difference from Cap City to St. Lucie defensively, was that hitters could drive the ball a lot better to the opposite field, in Cap City I could play a right handed hitter very shallow in right field, but when I got to St. Lucie I realized that these guys are bigger and stronger so you have to give them a few more steps.

NYF: Was the FSL Championship your first championship as a player? Can you describe the feeling of winning a championship?
Malek: This was not my first championship, I had won the Michigan High School State Championship my senior year(1999). But it is just as sweet anytime that you can start off with every other team in the league all setting out to be the best, and to go through a long year and when it was all said and done, we were the best in the Florida State League. And to represent the New York Mets as being the only team in the organization this year to win a championship is very special.

NYF: What are your plans for the winter? Do you plan to play winter ball somewhere? What is your workout schedule like during the off season?

Malek: Well I plan to take it easy for a few weeks, and after that start working hard to get ready to come to spring training stronger and faster and mentally tougher to compete for a spot in AA. I am going to take a few classes to get closer to finishing my degree, and at night I am giving hitting lessons at an indoor hitting facility to earn a few bucks.

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