Q&A with Wallace Manager Mackey Sasser

Ernesto Gonzalez was drafted in the 19th round of the 2007 MLB Draft. His manager, and familiar face to Mets fans, Mackey Sasser, sat down with Inside Pitch Magazine to discuss the young shortstop. He touched on his former player's abilities, his past, as well as his own life since he retired from baseball.

Inside Pitch Magazine: What was the reaction Ernesto Gonzalez had to being drafted?

Mackey Sasser: He was very excited, he thanked me for everything I did for him and he was excited and he was ready to go play ball. I think he's a really good ballplayer, and he's just got some things to do like work on his hitting, but other than that he can play with anybody.

Inside Pitch: Was it a surprise that the Mets drafted him?

Sasser: There were about seven teams that came in and talked to him and did all the tests they had to do. But the Mets took him on their showcase, so I knew once they got him in their little combine and saw what he could with the glove and the arm strength and that kind of stuff, I figured they might be the one.

Inside Pitch: Tell me about Ernesto's game. What type of player is he?

Sasser: He loves to swing the bat. We basically broke him down and tried to get him to play small ball because if he makes it to the big leagues, that's what he's going to have to do, is hit behind guys and move guys over and that kind of stuff.

And I know he brings a great glove and arm strength, he was called a ‘vacuum cleaner,' he just sucked up everything. He reminded me a lot of Kevin Elster, with more arm strength. He does have some pop, but he's going to be a line-drive hitter.

Inside Pitch: Do you see Ernesto staying at shortstop or do you think he'll be moved?

Sasser: The thing is I don't know. He can play second, third or short, but second and short are going to be his positions. He can play any one of those with anybody; he's got great hands, he turns the ball well, that kind of stuff. It's just a matter of him making adjustments to pitching, and hitting the ball to the right side of the field. I think he's going to make a good player.

Inside Pitch: What was Ernesto's best moment in his time with you at Wallace?

Sasser: He makes some outstanding plays all year long, and that's what caught (the Mets') eye; he was just making plays, just 360's and doing (extraordinary) things. He made a play one game—and I played against Ozzie Smith and all the guys when I was with the Mets—he made a play in the hole and came up and flipped it all in one motion. Just got a guy by about five steps, and the guy had pretty good wheels.

That was a great play, but the highlight of him here at Wallace, he hit two three-run home runs at Chipola junior college, which won the national championship this year in junior college ball. I think that probably for him was the highlight, because he makes those plays all the time on defense.

Inside Pitch: Do you know what Major League team and player Ernesto grew up a fan of?

Sasser: I don't know. I know he always wore Phillies hats, that might tell you, but I don't know. He always had a new Phillies hat.

Inside Pitch: Is Ernesto looking to start his professional career quickly?

Sasser: He's signed on June 13th., I know they were trying to get him to the Gulf Coast League. They were planning on him playing every day.

Inside Pitch: What have you been up to since your Major League career ended? How did you arrive at Wallace?

Sasser: Well I played junior college ball here at Wallace, before I signed with LSU, and I never made it to LSU, I signed with the Giants. This is my 10th year and I'm going into my 11th season. It's just a place I played, I married a girl from here and I wound up staying here.

It's a good opportunity to stay around baseball and I like what I do. And I'm in it for the kids, I'm not in it for myself. I'm always interested in getting them what they need to get. My number one pet peeve here is to get them to college.

Typical situation with Ernesto Gonzalez: he didn't have the grades. It wasn't that he wasn't smart, it was just the fact that the language barrier was tough on him. He had to sign, he needed to sign.

I‘ve got another player in that organization, Brandon Nall that pitched in the big leagues a couple innings this year in split-squad. But I'm here, I'm just coaching ball. I enjoy it.

Inside Pitch: Are you in touch the with the Mets' front office?

Sasser: I was (at Shea) for my birthday last year. Howard Smith with Major League Baseball (MLB senior vice president for licensing), I met him for a game and I saw Jay Horowitz (Mets vice president of media relations) and Charlie Samuels (Mets equipment manager) and Jim Plummer (Mets director of corporate services), talked with them for a while and hung out with those guys. But I've been in touch with the Mets organization all along.

Inside Pitch: Will you always consider yourself a Met?

I did a radio show (on June 12) and they asked me the same question: I've always been a Met and always will be; I follow the Mets all the time. I watch them on TV and I think they got a great team and I really respect Willie Randolph, who was a teammate of mine.

He always had that personality, you knew he was going to make a good manager one day, and he turned out to be a good one.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nInside Pitch Magazine: What was the reaction Ernesto Gonzalez had to being drafted?
\r\n
\r\nMackey Sasser: He was very excited, he thanked me for everything I did for him and he was excited and he was ready to go play ball. I think he's a really good ballplayer, and he's just got some things to do like work on his hitting, but other than that he can play with anybody.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Was it a surprise that the Mets drafted him?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: There were about seven teams that came in and talked to him and did all the tests they had to do. But the Mets took him on their showcase, so I knew once they got him in their little combine and saw what he could with the glove and the arm strength and that kind of stuff, I figured they might be the one.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Tell me about Ernesto's game. What type of player is he?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: He loves to swing the bat. We basically broke him down and tried to get him to play small ball because if he makes it to the big leagues, that's what he's going to have to do, is hit behind guys and move guys over and that kind of stuff.
\r\n
\r\nAnd I know he brings a great glove and arm strength, he was called a ‘vacuum cleaner,' he just sucked up everything. He reminded me a lot of Kevin Elster, with more arm strength. He does have some pop, but he's going to be a line-drive hitter.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you see Ernesto staying at shortstop or do you think he'll be moved?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: The thing is I don't know. He can play second, third or short, but second and short are going to be his positions. He can play any one of those with anybody; he's got great hands, he turns the ball well, that kind of stuff. It's just a matter of him making adjustments to pitching, and hitting the ball to the right side of the field. I think he's going to make a good player.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What was Ernesto's best moment in his time with you at Wallace?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: He makes some outstanding plays all year long, and that's what caught (the Mets') eye; he was just making plays, just 360's and doing (extraordinary) things. He made a play one game—and I played against Ozzie Smith and all the guys when I was with the Mets—he made a play in the hole and came up and flipped it all in one motion. Just got a guy by about five steps, and the guy had pretty good wheels.
\r\n
\r\nThat was a great play, but the highlight of him here at Wallace, he hit two three-run home runs at Chipola junior college, which won the national championship this year in junior college ball. I think that probably for him was the highlight, because he makes those plays all the time on defense.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Do you know what Major League team and player Ernesto grew up a fan of?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: I don't know. I know he always wore Phillies hats, that might tell you, but I don't know. He always had a new Phillies hat.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Is Ernesto looking to start his professional career quickly?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: He's signed on June 13th., I know they were trying to get him to the Gulf Coast League. They were planning on him playing every day.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: What have you been up to since your Major League career ended? How did you arrive at Wallace?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: Well I played junior college ball here at Wallace, before I signed with LSU, and I never made it to LSU, I signed with the Giants. This is my 10th year and I'm going into my 11th season. It's just a place I played, I married a girl from here and I wound up staying here.
\r\n
\r\nIt's a good opportunity to stay around baseball and I like what I do. And I'm in it for the kids, I'm not in it for myself. I'm always interested in getting them what they need to get. My number one pet peeve here is to get them to college.
\r\n
\r\nTypical situation with Ernesto Gonzalez: he didn't have the grades. It wasn't that he wasn't smart, it was just the fact that the language barrier was tough on him. He had to sign, he needed to sign.
\r\n
\r\nI‘ve got another player in that organization, Brandon Nall that pitched in the big leagues a couple innings this year in split-squad. But I'm here, I'm just coaching ball. I enjoy it.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Are you in touch the with the Mets' front office?
\r\n
\r\nSasser: I was (at Shea) for my birthday last year. Howard Smith with Major League Baseball (MLB senior vice president for licensing), I met him for a game and I saw Jay Horowitz (Mets vice president of media relations) and Charlie Samuels (Mets equipment manager) and Jim Plummer (Mets director of corporate services), talked with them for a while and hung out with those guys. But I've been in touch with the Mets organization all along.
\r\n
\r\nInside Pitch: Will you always consider yourself a Met?
\r\n
\r\nI did a radio show (on June 12) and they asked me the same question: I've always been a Met and always will be; I follow the Mets all the time. I watch them on TV and I think they got a great team and I really respect Willie Randolph, who was a teammate of mine.
\r\n
\r\nHe always had that personality, you knew he was going to make a good manager one day, and he turned out to be a good one.
\r\n
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