BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Matt McBride, a 2006 second-round MLB Draft pick out of Lehigh, received a non-roster invite to the Colorado Rockies Spring Training Camp, his first-career invite to a big league camp. The Bethlehem, Pa. native spent the offseason locally, working out on Lehigh University's Goodman Campus and officially reported with the pitchers and catchers to Scottsdale, Ariz. for the Rockies’ first workout on Feb. 20.
“I’m really excited about it,” McBride said. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to making the most of it.”
McBride spent the 2011 season with the Cleveland Indians’ Double-A and Triple-A clubs before he was traded to the Colorado Rockies as part of a package of four minor-league prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez. He finished out the 2011 season with Double-A Tulsa.
Despite all of the movement, McBride almost had a chance to play in his backyard. He was with Triple-A Columbus when the team was set to make a trip to Coca-Cola Park which would give McBride the chance to play against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs but he was reassigned to Akron that day.
McBride is not only excited about the opportunity to take part in his first-career big league camp, but he is especially eager to get back behind the plate. Because of shoulder surgery in 2007, McBride has been restricted to playing outfield and first base the past few years. With the Rockies, however, he was told to bring his catching gear, which will give McBride a chance to get back to playing the position he was drafted at after starring with the Mountain Hawks behind the dish for three years.
“I’m really excited about getting back into catching,” McBride said. “I just want to prove I can handle myself behind the plate. That’s my biggest priority from day one. If I can do that, it will really help me out. My whole life, I was pretty much a catcher including at Lehigh.”
As a Mountain Hawk, McBride led Lehigh to its first-ever Patriot League Championship and NCAA Tournament berth in 2006. He won the league’s Triple Crown (.417-12-61) and set a then-league record with 88 hits, which now ranks second all-time. After his breakout junior campaign, he was named an ABCA All-American, Louisville Slugger All-American and College Baseball Foundation All-American.
He was then taken 75th overall in the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Cleveland Indians.
“My time at Lehigh went really fast, it seems like it was just a year or two ago,” McBride said. “It’s nice coming in and working here - all the Lehigh coaches are great and a big help during my offseason. To be able to have a facility like this at Lehigh is great. It really helps and I’m really lucky. There’s a great bunch of guys on the team and every year, I always check and see how the team is doing.”
McBride isn’t the only former Lehigh player who will be in action this spring.
Andrew Berger ’10, who spent 2010 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and 2011 with the Colorado Rockies, reported to Arizona this spring with the San Francisco Giants. Also, Mike Lebo ’11, who spent last season in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, signed with the Normal CornBelters for the 2012 season. The CornBelters, based in Normal, Ill., play in the Frontier League, which is an independent baseball organization.