2nd Rate? Not a Chance, Rockies Draft Choice McMahon Has Big-League Motivation


Chris McMahon has a live fastball, changeup, slider and added a cutter to his pitch selection last summer.

And if the array of pitchers aren't enough, McMahon, who the Rockies drafted in the second round of last week's first-year player draft, has something to prove. The fact he slipped to 47th pick bugs him -- big time.

Baseball America projected him as the 30th best player in the draft.

"To go from the first round to the 40s is a motivation," he said. "I was not happy Wednesday night (after the first round). It was hard sleeping."

He said it was 3:30 a.m., Thursday before he finally fell asleep.

"I have to keep proving people wrong and show them I didn't deserve to slide like that," he said. "I won't forget Wednesday night for ever."

Rest assured, the Rockies are ready to give McMahon every opportunity to make his point. He has been in their plans since his high school days in Pennsylvania.

"We have been scouting Chris since he was in high school," said scouting director Bill Schmidt. "We wanted to attend the University of Miami, which turned into a good decision. It continued his development. This has been a four-year process with Chris."

He made it clear he is ready to become a member of the Rockies organization. Slot money for the 37th pick in the draft is $1.6 million. He told the Miami Herald he would be signing, not returning to Miami for a senior season.

"I'm going to sign the piece of paper," he was quoted as saying.

He wants to start is climb to the big leagues, welcoming another challenge -- life of a pitcher at 5,280 feet altitude.

"I see that Colorado is not a pitcher's park," he said. "It's a hitter's park. At the end of the day, I just have to figure out how to get outs and win ball games."

He showed that at Miami. This spring he was 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA in an abbreviated season in which he made four starts, walking five and striking out 38 in 25 2.3 innings. 

He was the second of two Hurricane pitchers drafted last week, the 17th year in a row Miami has had a pitcher selected. Slade Cecconi, a draft-eligible sophomore, went with the 33rd selection to Arizona. 

"It's all J.D.," McMahon said of pitching coach J.D. Arteaga, who just finished his 18th year on the Hurricane staff. "He developed my pitching ability so much since I stepped on campus my first year."

As Schmidt said, McMahon made a wise decision when he passed on signing a pro contract out of high school.

"I don't know if I was physically ready for pro ball out of high school," he said. "For me, going to college, getting bigger and strong, and development some other pitchers, and the education is a big thing. Obviously, I can't play baseball forever."

And at Miami he feels his development was enhanced by the quality of competition from within the team's pitching staff, as well as the challenge of pitching in the ACC.

"Week in, week out the guys you face are good ballplayers," he said. "I raised my came in three years.

"We had a friendly competition (among the Hurricane starters). Everyone wants to be the Friday night guy, but we all knew we were going to win a lot of ballgames, a lot of series, and we accepted our role. Our attitude was it doesn't matter. We just wanted to win. We wanted to get to Omaha (for the College World Series)."

Baseball, after all, is more than a game for McMahon, He was an honor role student in high school, and made "good grades at Miami," where he majored in business.

But for the long term. ...

"I know down the road I want to stay in baseball, whether it is playing or coaching. It's been a part of my entire life. so I think I will continue to do something in baseball when my playing career is over."

In the short term, it's about taking advantage of the opportunity the Rockies are providing, making sure he is ready to go whenever baseball finally feels comfortable welcoming players back to the field.

"It's been a long stretch with his pandemic going on," he said. "There's been a lot of time to get out of shape. I have been able to throw everyday, and been doing conditioning three, four times a week. I want to be ready to go when the pandemic is over."

And even when he's not focused on baseball, there is that competitive personality that can't relax.

"I have been playing a lot of golf," he said. "I played with my dad. I make sure he doesn't beat me. I have a lot of competitive energy."

It's all part of the package that made the Rockies the team that stepped up in the second round.



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