Scottsdale, Ariz. -- The Colorado Rockies' core young group of prospects have now more less arrived together as non-roster invitees to the whirlwind that is Major League spring training. Perhaps the next step, then, for promising young players like Raimel Tapia, Carlos Estevez, Kyle Freeland, David Dahl, Jeff Hoffman, or Matt Carasiti might be to take a deep breath and slow down.
If any of them feel rushed at this point in their careers, maybe they can find a colleague to emulate in Ryan McMahon. Just three years removed from high school and already in big league camp, the third baseman is using the opportunity this March to soak in knowledge while staying on as even a keel as possible.
"I'm just trying to get myself ready at the plate, and feel good in the field," McMahon told Purple Row of his goals alongside the big leaguers in Scottsdale this month.
"How about you hit some homers?", interjected outfielder Charlie Blackmon, as he walked by to his locker neighboring McMahon's in the Rockies' clubhouse.
McMahon responded with a smirk, unfazed by the veteran taking his interview time.
"Hit some homers like Charlie just said, maybe a couple homers would be nice," the 21-year-old chuckled. "But really I just want to be ready overall, and I feel like I’m in a good spot heading into the season."
McMahon's other locker neighbor, relief pitcher Justin Miller, walked up at that point, took out his iPhone, and started pretending to interview the young third baseman. But all the media attention— both real and faked by teammates—thus far hasn't thrown the prospect, who explained his spring work at the plate in a detached, low-stress way.
"I'm just going through my usual checkpoints and I kind of know how my swing works, so I'm just getting back to that," McMahon said. "Definitely getting my timing down. I’ve been either really late or really early right now, but that always takes some time to refine and get ready, so I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things and repeat my swing."
McMahon's probably on the right track to try to repeat his swing, because whatever he did in his first three years of pro ball worked. After 317 games in the Rockies' organization, McMahon is a career .297/.372/.524 hitter. He smashed 46 doubles and 18 home runs at hitter-friendly Asheville in 2014 and then, to prove it wasn't a fluke, knocked another 43 doubles and 18 home runs at pitcher-friendly Modesto last summer.
Though strikeouts are an issue—to be fair, that's true of many power hitters—McMahon's also proven the ability to draw a walk early in his career. Being not even three calendar years out of high school is belied by his discerning eye at the plate, and that bodes well for the Rockies as they increasingly try to preach plate discipline.
Defense, too, has McMahon doing the talking with his work ethic rather than his interview time. After walking off a practice infield early one morning having completed extra work at third base, the prospect downplayed his development with the glove.
"I'm doing defensive stuff just the same way I used to," McMahon said of his extra work in the field, at both third and first base. "[Third base coach] Stu Cole saw a couple things he wanted to bring to my attention, so we went out there and worked out the kinks today. I’ll just keep working on those things and try to get better all around, at third and first."
If his first three seasons of pro baseball are any indication, McMahon's version of "better" will keep setting the bar higher for himself. And though he may not find himself clubhouse neighbors with Blackmon and Miller come Opening Day, another year of baseball like he's put together over the last three will certainly force the Rockies' hand one day soon.