Pelfrey looms large with Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Mike Pelfrey is only a few bullpen sessions into his first Spring Training with the Mets, but already, people are beginning to notice him.

Maybe it's because Pelfrey stands head and shoulders, literally, above the rest of his teammates. The tallest player in Major League camp at six feet, seven inches, Pelfrey is used to attracting attention wherever he goes.

But the Mets' first-round pick in last June's draft is garnering attention for reasons other than his physical stature. Selected ninth overall from Wichita State University, the 22-year-old Pelfrey showed a Mets contingent just why he was revered as the top college pitcher in the draft, bringing heat with his smooth delivery on a back field at the Mets' complex.

"I was really impressed with him," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "He's nice and free and easy, and boy, he's huge. Big boy. It's pretty impressive to just see the ball fly out of his hand without any effort."

Once selected as the 2001 Gatorade Kansas High School Player of the Year, Pelfrey briefly entertained going pro in 2002 out of high school. He waited until the 15th round to hear his name called by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, making his acceptance to Wichita State a last-minute decision.

It turned out to be one of the best moves he could make. Over three years with the Shockers, Pelfrey went 33-7 with a 2.18 ERA in 52 games, including 14 complete games. He added more than 30 pounds to a frame that still appears on the gangly side, but Pelfrey said his biggest strides were inside.

Had he gone pro after high school, he said, he probably would not have been able to cut it.

"I think the biggest part was that I grew up mentally," Pelfrey said. "I learned some things, learned how to throw a change-up, my curveball got better and I learned how to pitch. I've grown up a lot."

Not bad for someone who didn't even take up baseball until age 11, when most players have already progressed through lower Little League levels and have an advanced head start.

"It was kind of a weird thing," Pelfrey recalls. "My friend came up and said, 'We need one more guy on our team.' I was like, 'Baseball? I've never played before.'"

Added as, quite literally, the last man on the roster, Pelfrey was stuck where the weakest players on a team always are - right field. Clumsy and uncoordinated, Pelfrey says he was "probably the worst guy on our team," and an unlikely candidate ever to head to the mound, much less to a professional career.

"We only had one pitcher on the team, and he moved out of town," said Pelfrey, who was 12 at the time. "The coach asked if anyone wanted to pitch, so I said I would."

Then came the growth spurt. Between the summer following eighth grade and the beginning of his freshman year of high school, Pelfrey shot up a solid five inches.

"It was kind of weird," Pelfrey said. "I'd slouch just so I could fit in. But after a while, you get used to it. It has its advantages, that's for sure."

Such as?

"Well, the ladies like the tall guys," Pelfrey said.

So did the guys. Essentially forced to play basketball in high school because of his height, Pelfrey manned center, although he said he was strictly a role player - feeding passes, grabbing rebounds, and trying to stay out of the way of the kids who actually could shoot the ball.

"I did the dirty work," Pelfrey said.

A workhorse who models himself after Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, Pelfrey acknowledges he has room to fill out and add muscle to a frame that is officially listed at 190 pounds. He also has time to do it, likely to open the season in Class-A with the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League.

In the meantime, Pelfrey said he's about "85, 90 percent" of the way to being ready for his first professional season. During off moments, Pelfrey said he keeps busy either with a golf club or a fishing pole in his hands.

"I like to fish, but I always let the fish go," Pelfrey said. "I'm not into killing things."

A soft heart? Yes, but not on the mound.

"Of course not," Pelfrey said. "[My off time] is when I'm laid back and I can just do my thing. When it's my day of the week [to pitch], that's when it's all business."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nMaybe it's because Pelfrey stands head and shoulders, literally, above the rest of his teammates. The tallest player in Major League camp at six feet, seven inches, Pelfrey is used to attracting attention wherever he goes.\r\n

\r\nBut the Mets' first-round pick in last June's draft is garnering attention for reasons other than his physical stature. Selected ninth overall from Wichita State University, the 22-year-old Pelfrey showed a Mets contingent just why he was revered as the top college pitcher in the draft, bringing heat with his smooth delivery on a back field at the Mets' complex.\r\n

\r\n\"I was really impressed with him,\" Mets manager Willie Randolph said. \"He's nice and free and easy, and boy, he's huge. Big boy. It's pretty impressive to just see the ball fly out of his hand without any effort.\"\r\n

\r\nOnce selected as the 2001 Gatorade Kansas High School Player of the Year, Pelfrey briefly entertained going pro in 2002 out of high school. He waited until the 15th round to hear his name called by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, making his acceptance to Wichita State a last-minute decision.\r\n

\r\nIt turned out to be one of the best moves he could make. Over three years with the Shockers, Pelfrey went 33-7 with a 2.18 ERA in 52 games, including 14 complete games. He added more than 30 pounds to a frame that still appears on the gangly side, but Pelfrey said his biggest strides were inside. \r\n

\r\nHad he gone pro after high school, he said, he probably would not have been able to cut it.\r\n

\r\n\"I think the biggest part was that I grew up mentally,\" Pelfrey said. \"I learned some things, learned how to throw a change-up, my curveball got better and I learned how to pitch. I've grown up a lot.\"\r\n

\r\nNot bad for someone who didn't even take up baseball until age 11, when most players have already progressed through lower Little League levels and have an advanced head start. \r\n

\r\n\"It was kind of a weird thing,\" Pelfrey recalls. \"My friend came up and said, 'We need one more guy on our team.' I was like, 'Baseball? I've never played before.'\"\r\n

\r\nAdded as, quite literally, the last man on the roster, Pelfrey was stuck where the weakest players on a team always are - right field. Clumsy and uncoordinated, Pelfrey says he was \"probably the worst guy on our team,\" and an unlikely candidate ever to head to the mound, much less to a professional career.\r\n

\r\n\"We only had one pitcher on the team, and he moved out of town,\" said Pelfrey, who was 12 at the time. \"The coach asked if anyone wanted to pitch, so I said I would.\"\r\n

\r\nThen came the growth spurt. Between the summer following eighth grade and the beginning of his freshman year of high school, Pelfrey shot up a solid five inches.\r\n

\r\n\"It was kind of weird,\" Pelfrey said. \"I'd slouch just so I could fit in. But after a while, you get used to it. It has its advantages, that's for sure.\"\r\n

\r\nSuch as?\r\n

\r\n\"Well, the ladies like the tall guys,\" Pelfrey said.\r\n

\r\nSo did the guys. Essentially forced to play basketball in high school because of his height, Pelfrey manned center, although he said he was strictly a role player - feeding passes, grabbing rebounds, and trying to stay out of the way of the kids who actually could shoot the ball.\r\n

\r\n\"I did the dirty work,\" Pelfrey said.\r\n

\r\nA workhorse who models himself after Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, Pelfrey acknowledges he has room to fill out and add muscle to a frame that is officially listed at 190 pounds. He also has time to do it, likely to open the season in Class-A with the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League.\r\n

\r\nIn the meantime, Pelfrey said he's about \"85, 90 percent\" of the way to being ready for his first professional season. During off moments, Pelfrey said he keeps busy either with a golf club or a fishing pole in his hands.\r\n

\r\n\"I like to fish, but I always let the fish go,\" Pelfrey said. \"I'm not into killing things.\"\r\n

\r\nA soft heart? Yes, but not on the mound. \r\n

\r\n\"Of course not,\" Pelfrey said. \"[My off time] is when I'm laid back and I can just do my thing. 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