Offseason Q&A with Shane Hawk

St. Lucie Mets' LHP Shane Hawk caught up with for an offseason Q&A session to talk about how he's feeling after his injury last season, what he feels he needs to work on the most, what his favorite moment in college was, which Mets' farmhands impress him the most, and a whole lot more!

Inside Pitch: You were a top pitching prospect in your junior year of high school, but fell down in the draft after your senior year. What was the reason for that? Was that the reason you decided to go to Oklahoma State University?

Shane Hawk: I broke my hand in January before the start of the season my senior year and was out until Spring Break that year, not pitching until mid-March. It pretty much sealed the deal for me going to Oklahoma State after falling all the way down to the 40th round of the draft after high school. Going to OSU was the best move I've ever made. I ended up having the most appearances on the team my freshman year in college. It was neat coming in as a freshman and getting that much playing time considering they had a lot of older players on the team. I made my best friends in life in college.

Inside Pitch: Was there one moment that stood out from the rest while you were playing for Oklahoma State?

Hawk: (laughing) Yeah. In my junior year we were playing Texas A&M and we were losing 9-8, or 8-7, something like that. We were down by one run and we ran out of positional players so I had to pinch run. I was on first base and one our guys hit a ball to deep right center field and I ran all the way around to home plate to tie the game. It was really awesome. Pitchers don't really get a chance to run the bases like that and it must have been a sight to see. I mean, I am a tall, skinny guy with long arms so I can only imagine what I looked like running the bases like that.

Inside Pitch: Did you know the Mets were interested in you before being selected by them in the 2003 draft? Were there any other clubs talking to you?

Hawk: There were like 13 or 14 teams that talked to me a lot before the draft. The Mets, Indians, Angels, Twins, and Phillies seemed to have expressed the most interest. I thought I would have been drafted somewhere between the 2nd and 8th round that year. Larry Chase, the Mets scout that scouted me, told me that they didn't have a second or third round pick that year but they wanted to draft me. He asked me if I would sign if they drafted me in the fourth round and I told him that I would definitely sign if they picked me in that spot. I thought it was really cool that he said that and I was pumped. The Mets have treated me well since they drafted me.

Inside Pitch: You grew up as a starting pitcher but have been used primarily as a reliever in college and with the Mets. You've been used as a setup guy and a closer. Do you have a preference either way?

Hawk: Like I said, the Mets have been good to me. Anyway I can contribute to the team is perfect. I can close or setup, it doesn't really matter. I can do whatever they want me to do. The key thing for me is just staying healthy.

Inside Pitch: Give us a scouting report on yourself. What type of pitches do you throw, at what speeds? What is your best pitch?

Hawk: I throw a fastball, slider, and changeup. I throw a 2-seam fastball that's between 90-93 MPH and tops off at 95 MPH. My slider is between 79-83 MPH and can top it off at 85 MPH. My changeup is around 78-79 MPH. When I'm locating my slider, it is mean, and tough to hit. I'd say that is my out pitch. I used to throw a curveball more at Okalahoma State, but I picked up my slider the summer before my sophomore year in the Cape Cod League and I've worked with the slider more ever since. The pitching coaches are big on keeping notes on the batters so we know the tendencies of the hitters at the plate. So depending on who I am facing, that dictates what pitches I throw them.

Inside Pitch: What would you say is your strongest asset as a pitcher?

Hawk: My versatility and the fact that the Mets can use me both ways. I can be a starter and reliever. I can setup or close. I can get lefties or righties out. It doesn't matter.

Inside Pitch: Okay, what would you say is the weakest part of your game?

Hawk: I'd have to say that I rush my mechanics sometimes. It hurts me a little bit when I get too aggressive on the mound and throw too hard. (laughing) But who doesn't want to get pumped up and let one fly? I've been working on my mechanics and it looks like they are getting better. I am going up instead of down and it is all coming together now.

Inside Pitch: What are your goals for next season?

Hawk: To finish! I want to put in a full, healthy season. I think my success would come from staying healthy all year. I've moved up faster than I thought I would, going from Capital City to St. Lucie last year. I don't know where I'll start the year, but hopefully I am pitching well enough, and stay healthy enough, to move up to AA this year.

Inside Pitch: Did you have a favorite team growing up, or a favorite player?

Hawk: I never really had a favorite team growing up. If I had one, it was Oklahoma State, so going there was a dream come true. I rooted for Ken Griffey Jr. and I always liked Nolan Ryan. I guess I just rooted for players. (laughing) I remember having a Jose Canseco jersey back when the "Bash Brothers" were around.

Inside Pitch: Among the positional players, which Mets' prospects do you feel have the highest upside?

Hawk: Man, the Mets have lucked out. We have a ton of talent in the system. Lastings Milledge is an unreal talent with tremendous abilities. Before last season I know he had a lot of critics, but he showed what he can do on a baseball field. But there's also Brett Harper who is a great hitter and Ian Bladergroen is not only an awesome guy, but an awesome hitter as well. Even a guy like Jonathan Slack does not get the credit he deserves. He's really athletic and has a good swing. (laughing) I could list more guys with great upside if I wanted.

Inside Pitch: If you had to pick one pitcher from the Mets' system that you played with that you feel has the highest upside, who would it be?

Hawk: Matthew Lindstrom. Powerful is the one word I would use to describe him. He's an awesome guy with a very high ceiling. He definitely can go the distance. He still has stuff to work on and he knows it. Lindstrom throws a 99-MPH fastball, has a good curveball, slider, and changeup. If he doesn't wind up being a starter, he could still be a great closer in my mind. He's pure power but he is just so relaxed on the mound. He's not a max effort guy. It is really fun to watch him pitch.

Inside Pitch: Are there any players, in your opinion, that are possible "sleepers"? You know, guys that may not get the credit they deserve but could wind up being very good players at the Major League level?

Hawk: Two guys comes to mind. Greg Ramirez is a little bit older and more mature, but he's a really good pitcher. He works so hard, you know he's going to be good. Evan MacLane has an unreal work ethic too. He puts it all on the line. He gives it his all, or nothing. MacLane works so hard and I respect him a lot for it. He accomplishes so much with what he's got.

Inside Pitch: You've mentioned a couple of times that your main goal is to stay healthy. Describe to us your history of injuries. Does it have anything to do with your inability to put on weight?

Hawk: My upper body has gotten a little bit bigger. I eat right and lift as much as I can, but I can never seem to gain weight. But its never about who is the biggest guy out there. I have never been cut on (surgery). But my injuries have come from overuse, that type of thing. I had some tendonitis in Brooklyn and I had my season cut short last year with a dead-arm type of feel. I had a mild injury to the scaff area in my shoulder that was due more from overuse. I've been playing catch with no and pain this offseason and that's a good thing. I've been doing the right weight training. So far, so good. would like to thank Shane Hawk for taking the time to answer our questions this offseason. Be sure to visit the site frequently next season as we'll be checking in with Shane Hawk from time to time.

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