Rays Prospect Q & A: Mikie Mahtook (Part 2)

Last Saturday, Rays 2011 1st Round draft pick Mikie Mahtook talked to me via phone from Arizona where he is playing in the Arizona Fall League. In part two of this exclusive interview, he discusses how well he has been treated by the Rays front office, playing with Tim Beckham, using Twitter, and why he plays with such emotion on the diamond.

John Gregg: R. J. Harrison and Andrew Friedman have both talked about you and the fact that you are a scrappy player but also a great athlete who has all five tools. You seem to be the perfect type of player for the Rays' system, because they place such a premium on defensive play, speed, and running the bases. All stuff that you do very, very well. You talked in an interview with the St. Pete Times earlier this Summer that they had treated you very fairly during the whole draft process. Is that relationship still a good one? How have you continued to foster that relationship with the front office and player development people?

Mikie Mahtook: The Rays treated me great through the whole process. They kept in contact with me, and they never put full on pressure on me. They were patient with me, and I respect that. I'm very happy that they never put me in a position to have to make a rash decision.

The relationship that I have with the organization is great to this day, and I don't ever expect that to falter. The Rays like I said earlier...we have a great organization. I can use "we" because I am part of the Rays now. So, we have a great organization, and the relationship I have with the higher-ups is great. I'm looking forward to continuing to build on that and moving on in my career.

John Gregg: Tim Beckham was the number one overall pick in 2008. A lot of people... not myself necessarily...but a lot of people have been disappointed in his development. He is only 21, the same age as you. You've had a chance to play with him and work out with him now in the AFL. Could you tell me a little bit about Beckham as a player and as a teammate?

Mikie Mahtook: Tim is a great, great player, and he is a great, great teammate. He loves the game of baseball, and he plays the game hard. He works his butt off. He is always in the cage, and he is always trying to get better. He is always working to be the best he can be. I think that he is a great player. He's played really well for us out here. I think he's a great investment by the Rays to be honest with you. He's a good player, and he's impressed me. In the short time that I've been with him, I've been impressed by him. He's a great guy, and I've enjoyed my time with him.

John Gregg: I know you have a Twitter account. There are a couple of Rays' players, most notably David Price, who are really big tweeters. Do you have any plans on using Twitter and social media to market yourself and to connect with fans? Or is it more of a casual thing for you?

Mikie Mahtook: I think both. I mean I enjoy Twitter. I was a late arrival to Twitter. I started it in the Spring of my Junior year, so I'm still trying to get used to it. If fans follow me and tweet me, then obviously I'll tweet them back. It's fun to interact with the fans. If they have questions or wanna say "hey", then that's awesome. I think it's great to be able to do that. If that's marketing myself, then yeah I enjoy doing that.

John Gregg: Obviously transitioning from college baseball into the minor leagues, and hopefully the Major Leagues soon, is a big step. What kind of support network do you have in place to help you with the transition?

Mikie Mahtook: I have a bunch of buddies that I played with at LSU that are now in pro ball, and a couple of them have been called up to the Major Leagues in the past year. So I know a bunch of guys who have gone through the same experience that I'm going through. They help me out if I have any questions, and they give me advice and recommendations on what to expect as I'm moving up and on forward. I've surrounded with myself with a bunch of baseball people who have gone through the same situations. I'm very fortunate to have those guys in my corner, and help me out whenever I have questions.

John Gregg: I have never seen you play live, but I have seen a lot of video of you playing at LSU. Your a very animated player, and you play with a lot of emotion. One Rays' blogger earlier this year even compared you to former Rays' player Johnny Gomes with kind of the way you are on the field. What fuels your emotion on the field? Is it a calculated thing to fire up your teammates and the fans? Or is it more of a natural, organic thing that kind of just happens?

Mikie Mahtook: Definitely more of a natural thing that just happens. Obviously I'm not like that every play of every game. That would be kind of ridiculous. Depending on the type of game or the type of play and the intensity of it...I mean that's always kind of how I've played any sport. I think that may be a little bit of the football mentality coming out of me.

When I get fired up, I enjoy it. I feel like I play better. I feel like everybody else plays better. I'll never do it as like a showboat thing or anything like that. But if it's an intense game, it's a close game or a great game, or a great play happened...a big hit, a home run or something, why not get fired up about it right?

John Gregg: Absolutely. I think the fans kinda of react well to that sort of thing. Reid Brignac is from Louisiana too, I'm not sure how close his hometown is in proximity to Lafayette, but do you know Reid? Are you familiar with Reid? Have you played with him at all?

Mikie Mahtook: I don't know him personally, but I know a lot of people who know him. Throughout my three years at LSU I met a lot of mutual friends of Reid's. He is actually from about 15 or 20 minutes outside of Baton Rouge, so it's not too far from Lafayette. I have never actually played against him, but I've heard nothing but good thing about him, and I'm looking forward to getting to know him.

John Gregg: Are there any other Rays' players that you're looking forward to meeting or playing with?

Mikie Mahtook: I mean really all of them. I don't really know any of them. Throughout my development as a player, hopefully I'll move up the ranks quick. Then I'll get up there and get to have a relationship with those guys, and meet them and join the squad and be part of the excitement that they've created in Tampa.

You can follow Mikie Mahtook on Twitter at: @MikieMahtook8

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John Gregg is Publisher and Senior Editor of Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaysDigest. He can also be reached via e-mail at raysdigest.com@gmail.com.

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