McBride is catching on in a big way
Posted: May 9, 2007
By Mandy Housenick
Of The Morning Call
Matt McBride already was more excited than usual for his Lake County Captains' exhibition game on April 3.
His father, George McBride, was in the stands.
But the night got even better for the Liberty High School graduate.
McBride, drafted 75th overall by the Cleveland Indians last season and now playing for the Single-A Captains of the South Atlantic League, was able to catch Fausto Carmona, who made four starts for Cleveland in April.
Not only did McBride notice a difference in Carmona's speed, but he also said his location was noticeably better than other minor league pitchers he's caught.
''It was definitely a great experience catching him,'' McBride said. ''He was able to throw his slider and changeup and a four-seamer and also a two-seamer. With his slider, he could locate it. That's the big thing.''
McBride couldn't help but be a little anxious before he squatted behind home plate to be Carmona's batterymate.
''I was pretty nervous going into it,'' said McBride, who played at Lehigh for three years. ''I knew his ball had a lot of movement and he throws hard. His two-seamer got up to 94 [mph]. But after the first inning my nerves calmed down and I was enjoying it.''
McBride should be enjoying a lot right now.
After playing with the short-season Single-A Mahoning Valley Scrappers a season ago, he was promoted to Lake County (14-12), whose stadium is just 20 minutes outside of Cleveland.
He's hitting .356, sixth best in the league, has a team-high nine doubles and driven in 19 runs. He's also walked 12 times and has one home run in 19 games.
He's even more productive when the pressure is on. With runners in scoring position, he's hitting .464 (13-for-28) with seven doubles.
The numbers don't surprise Lehigh coach Sean Leary, who watched McBride hit for power and average for the Mountain Hawks. One of Leary's favorite moments with McBride came when the Bethlehem native took batting practice for several major league scouts about a month before last year's draft.
With a wooden bat, McBride hit eight of the first 10 pitches and 20 of his first 30 for home runs. He even hit one onto the Goodman Campus tennis courts, which are well beyond the outfield fence at Lehigh.
''That was the single most impressive individual feat I have ever seen by one player,'' Leary said. ''The Red Sox scout went behind left field to see where they were landing. I was also throwing to Matt Geiger and Andrew Smith and neither one of them wanted to hit after him.''
McBride is finally getting used to living on his own, taking care of an apartment he shares with a teammate and the daily grind of being a ball player.
''Going from college to the pros is the main thing,'' McBride said. ''You're playing every day. You get to the field a lot earlier. You have to get into a routine. Once you get into a routine, it gets easier. The routine makes everything go smoother and you settle in.''
This story originally appeared in the Saturday, May 5, 2007 edition of The Morning Call. Used with permission.