Right Field

Remember When? Mike Pelfrey, Wichita State Phenom

Rewind seven years to June 9, 2004.

Following a disappointing exit from the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament and before the Mets selected him with the ninth overall pick in the following year’s amateur draft, towering right-handed pitching sensation Mike Pelfrey answered questions from Matthew Namee of The Hardball Times.

Topics included the tourney losses to Arkansas, pitch counts, what it’s like to sign autographs, and the following.

THT: Let’s talk about your high school career. Going into your senior year, you were a top prospect, and then you decided to play basketball. What made you decide to do that?

MP: I just wanted to forget about baseball and just go out and have fun. Basketball is a great way to get in shape for baseball, and I always enjoyed playing basketball, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity. The coach told me they didn’t have any big men, and he told me to come out, that I needed to play, and he thought I could be a key guy.

THT: How did that affect your next baseball season? I know that was a disappointing year.

MP: Well, I didn’t really prepare for it as much as I usually would if I didn’t play basketball. I didn’t have enough time to start throwing every day like I would leading up to the season, like I would have if I didn’t play basketball. My junior year, I was probably low- to mid-90s; everything worked. I went out senior year and I was throwing 88-89, and scouts didn’t like that, of course.

THT: Have you made a verbal commitment to an adviser/future agent?

MP: Yeah, my advisor is Scott Boras, the same guy I had in high school. I actually talk to a guy named Scott Chiamparino (he’s with the Boras corporation).

THT: I’m curious about that. Of course you saw what happened to Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew and how they dropped in the draft, largely because of their assocation with Boras. Why choose Scott Boras?

MP: Since high school, I’ve developed a relationship with the guys. They’re unbelievable. Some people are scared of them, but nobody’s going to tell you that they’re not the best. They’re the best around, they know their stuff. I remember when I did the interviews in high school with advisers, he came and gave his little speech, and I was blown away by the stuff he had and the stuff he talked about. They came across as more personal. They had your back no matter what, and they’ve never done one thing to change my mind about that. Even after high school, when everything fell down, he was still like, “You’re still the best.” They’ve never done anything but motivate me. Sometimes after my outings, we’ll call and discuss them. I always learn from my outings, whether they’re good or bad.

THT: What was your take on [Long Beach State’s] Jered Weaver? He pitched amazing against Wichita State [16 strikeouts in 6 innings].

MP: Our guys really didn’t like him, because he’s very confident. Kind of arrogant, almost. I watched the guy, and I loved the whole game, even though he was shoving it against us. I loved the whole game, just watching his attitude and just watching him go after guys. Brandon Green swung at the first pitch and hit a line drive to right field, and he [Weaver] kind of stepped off the mound and stared at him. I was loving that. Other guys on the team, hitters especially, were like, “Hey, don’t be doing that.” I just totally loved watching the guy work and pitch. That’s definitely a guy I can learn from.

THT: So you can respect that, stepping off the mound and staring a guy down.

MP: Oh, definitely. I enjoyed that. I told myself, “That’s the attitude I need to have.” He knows that he’s the best, and he’s probably got the same expectation, that he has to be perfect. And he knows he can get the job done. Half the reason he’s so good is the mental side. He’s so confident, and he’s not afraid of anybody. He just goes after everybody, and I love that about him. I loved watching him.

Read the rest of the interview here. Pelfrey, who had a no-decision in last night’s loss to the Brewers, has a lifetime ERA+ of 92 and xFIP of 4.52.

Jason Epstein is the president of Southfive Strategies, LLC. He was a public-relations consultant for the Turkish embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2007.


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