June 7, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Senior infielder Chris Malec, who had an outstanding final season at UC Santa Barbara despite battling through testicular cancer, has become the first Gaucho player chosen in the 2005 Major League Baseball draft. He was taken in the 16th round by the New York Yankees.
His selection by the Yankees is another impressive step as Malec continues to undergo treatment for testicular cancer. Last week, he was chosen second team All-Big West as a shortstop.
On April 14, he had surgery after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. A week later Malec had his first chemotherapy treatment. He was not expected to return to the lineup until UCSB's three-game series against UC Irvine, which started on April 20, and that is if he was to return at all. Instead, the four-year Gaucho starter returned two weeks early, for a three-game series against Long Beach State, which began on May 6. After entering the first game of the series as a defensive replacement, Malec was back in the starting lineup on May 7. He made the most of his return against the 49ers, belting a first inning grand slam and propelling the Gauchos to a win in the game and the series. He missed just one game the remainder of the season, the first game of the series against UC Irvine, after a second chemotherapy treatment.
In addition to battling through cancer, Malec made a successful shift from second base to shortstop. A first team all-league selection at second base in 2004, he was forced to play shortstop after Chris Valaika suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 18th game of the season. Valaika was the Big West Freshman of the Year and a second team All-Big West choice at shortstop in 2004.
Malec ultimately played in 45 of UCSB's 56 games, he batted .316 with a team-leading 13 doubles. In addition, he ranked tied for second on the team in home runs with five, had 36 run sscored, and had 25 RBI.