Before 2009: Malec was drafted in the 16th tound of the 2005 draft by the Yankees. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League after signing, he raked to the tune of a .384 average in 21 games. The following season, he was assigned to Low-A Charleston and earned a call-up to High-A Tampa after just a month and a half after hitting .262 with a home run and 14 RBI for the Riverdogs. But when he got to Tampa, he struggled, and hit just .205 over the last three and a half months of his second professional season.
But Malec recovered beautifully in 2007, starting the season in Charleston and earning another call-up to Tampa midway through the year. He hit .308 in Charleston and .323 in Tampa, and ended the season on Trenton’s playoff roster, although he didn’t play.
He did spend all of 2008 in Trenton, however, and he quickly emerged as one of the most consistent hitters and a team leader after starting the season on the bench. He earned an All-Star selection in a season where he hit .291 with five home runs and 52 RBI, and also played a big role in helping the Thunder win their second consecutive championship.
2009: Malec got off to a hot start in Trenton last year, and was quickly sent to Triple-A Scranton. However, after hitting .226 in 19 games, he was shipped back to Trenton for the remainder of the season. While he played well — hitting .279 with eight home runs and 56 RBI — he wasn’t quite as good as he was for the Thunder in 2008. His 68:57 BB/K ratio in ’08 was pretty hard to replicate, and his 42:63 mark last season showed that. Not bad, but consider the drop in average and that, and he dropped off just a bit.
After 2009: How can you not root for Chris Malec? Even aside of everything he’s been through — which, out of respect for him, I’ve never brought up with him — he’s a good story and a great guy. He’s also a “go-to guy” for the media after games, which…if you do what I do, means a lot. Basically, win or loss, you know he’ll also be willing to talk and give you more than the usual cliche crap.
Malec will most likely start his 2010 season in Triple-A Scranton. I would imagine his days in Trenton are through, but you can never be sure. He didn’t perform particularly well in his call-up last year, and it’s hard to picture him in an everyday role up there…which he’s most likely earned, by now. At 27 years old, Malec has absolutely got to make something happen. There’s no getting around that.
Also, check out this great, older story from ESPN.com
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com