Before the season, our friends in the Right Filed Mission were looking for players that have swagger. That cocky confidence and presence on the field that makes them stand out above other players. Well, during a recent trip to Lake Elsinore, we think we found a player Corey and the gang of the Right Field Mission will love. A guy with speed and belief in his abilities. That man is Mallex Smith and he loves to steal…bases that is.
The night we saw him he bunted for a base hit, stole second and scored on a single. His next at bat, he slapped a ball in the hole between shortstop and third for a hit, stole another base and scored on a hit. This is the type of excitement Padres fans are longing for. Mallex was drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 draft out of Santa Fe Community College in Gainsville, Florida. He was sent to the Arizona rookie league where he hit .344 and finished the season in Eugene hitting only .188 in 41 at bats. For 2013, he moved up to Fort Wayne where he played the entire season hitting .262 scoring 81 runs, hitting 17 doubles, and stealing 64 bases. His numbers were ok, but the Padres thought he needed a little more time in Fort Wayne, so he started the 2014 there. Mallex hit .295 with 56 runs scored and 48 stolen bases! That was more than enough for the Padres to move him to The Diamond in Lake Elsinore where he has continued to get on base, steal, and score runs. We had an opportunity to talk to Mallex and we hope you enjoy his thoughts on his career so far.
Wayne: Okay. What are some of your earliest memories of baseball, either playing it or even watching it on TV?
Mallex: I will guess playing tee-ball, tee-ball just trying to hit off the tee, them trying to switch me to right hand because I was hitting the tee a lot left-handed. And I was like, “No, no, I feel more comfortable left-handed. I’ll get it right.”
Wayne: So growing up, who are some of your early influences in baseball, whether it be players or maybe coaches that you’ve had?
Mallex: Well, my dad put me in the game. He has some friends that taught, let me play, which he’s a big fan of growing up. But watching Ken Griffey Jr. I was a big Ken Griffey Jr. fan. He was like, the first guy, he was like the all-star when I was younger. So, he’s the guy that I was amazed of, Ken Griffey Jr.
Wayne: So, up to this point in your career, what is probably your proudest accomplishment as a player, either as an individual or maybe a team you’ve been on?
Mallex: My proudest accomplishment. I mean, ultimately it will be where I’m at now, because I just came a long ways. A lot of people put a lot of effort into this. Mostly my family and influences all around me. And I’m just blessed to be here. God blessed me to be here. Being here was my ultimate accomplishment.
Wayne: If you weren’t playing baseball, what do you think you’d be doing? What are some things that you like to do when you’re, say, off the field?
Mallex: Well, I like to play football when I got free time. But yes, I feel like I’ll be football somewhere at some college. And that’s about it, playing football, having some fun with my friends.
Wayne: Okay. Last question, I’ll go with this one here. What are some things you’re working on this season? Maybe some areas that you’ve struggled with, you’re trying to get better with, or just in general. What are you working on building up to next season?
Mallex: Just being a tough, having a tough at bats, not giving away at bats, and just continue to get on base, because as long as I get on base, I have the opportunity to steal and score a run to help the team lead. So, as long as I’m getting on base, no matter how, whether it’s a bunt or a base hit or even an error, a walk. I’ll just make sure I’m getting on base and playing good defense. So, I can help my pitcher when I think he’s in [trouble].
Rebecca: I just had, when it comes to going after your whole baseball dream, has it been a dream of yours for forever? Or is it something that came along?
Mallex: It came along. Initially I thought I was going to be a football player growing up. And then life took its course and baseball was a better road of opportunity. And now, I’m just pursuing my baseball dream. Continuing, trying to build, and you know, ultimately make it to the Major Leagues and dominate at the higher level.
Rebecca: But you always knew you were going to be a professional athlete, it sounds like.
Mallex: I planned on it, yeah – it was in the plans. I worked hard for it my whole life as well as taking my school seriously. But growing up, I put my best foot forward to pursuing my athletic career.
Rebecca: And are you prepared? Baseball is a really long road, as far as getting through the Minor Leagues system and baseball is sacrifice. So, are you ready for the haul on that?
Mallex: Oh, yes. I’m all in. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t. And I just want to take this thing day by day. Like you said, it’s a long road. So, there’s no need to even look down the road. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And you will be where you want to be eventually.
Rebecca: What gets you excited each morning when you get up?
Mallex: I get to play.
Rebecca: You get to play? That’s awesome. Love it. Thank you so much.
Mallex: No problem.
Wayne: Last thing. I’ll give you one name. I want a reaction. Rickey Henderson.
Wayne: There you go. Thank you so much for your time.
Mallex: No problem.
Based on what we saw, Mallex Smith has #Swagger. We hope it isn’t long before he displays that swagger at Petco Park.
Lake Elsinore is a terrific ballpark and a great place to take in some wonderful baseball (see schedule). They are celebrating their 20th (XX) anniversary this year too! We highly recommend you take a drive up the I-15 and enjoy a ballgame at The Diamond! And maybe see Mallex Smith steal some bases & score some runs!
Wayne & Rebecca