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Chris McMahon says he’s “excited to be a Rockie”

In a call with media, McMahon discussed going through the draft and his pitch arsenal. (He also revealed which Rockies’ jersey he owns.)

With their second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the Rockies went for pitching. In this case, 6’2”, 205 lbs. righty Chris McMahon, a junior business major from the University of Miami (FL).

The Rockies had been recruiting McMahon, a native of West Chester, PA, since he was in high school. In the abbreviated season, McMahon went 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA (25 23 IP, 3 ER) over four starts with five walks and 38 strikeouts. From 2018-20, McMahon went 7-3 with a 3.28 ERA (112 13 IP, 41 ER), 37 walks and 123 strikeouts. McMahon has a 93-98 mph fastball and is developing secondary pitches.

On Friday, McMahon met with media to answer questions about the importance of his time with the Hurricanes, his mental toughness, and his familiarity with the Rockies.

Rockies Vice President of Scouting Bill Schmidt noted that McMahon’s time at the university was important to his development, a point McMahon agreed with. He said that he needed to go to college to get physically stronger (“I wasn’t a very big kid coming out of high school”) and develop his pitches.

McMahon continued, “I think it’s helped out a lot. Playing in the ACC also helped a lot. It’s a great conference, especially for college baseball, probably one of the top three conferences around the country.

“Week in, week out, every single weekend you’re going to get good ball players around the entire country,” he added. “It just raised my game throughout the three years, and obviously the kids on my own team at Miami when we’re inter-squading in the fall.”

Being part of a “salty” three-man rotation, McMahon argued — in addition to making the Canes competitive — also helped him become a better player.

“It was just friendly competition throughout the whole time,” he said. “Obviously, everyone wanted to be the Friday night guy and get the Friday night nod, but we all knew at the end of the day that we were going to win a lot of ballgames and win a lot of series with the three guys we had. I think we just accepted what we had, accepted our role, and attacked it that way. It doesn’t really matter. We’re just trying to win ballgames because we wanted to get to Omaha.”

When it comes to his pitch arsenal, McMahon says he has a four-seam fastball, added a cutter at the end of the summer, “which is a pitch I’ve gotten a lot of confidence in, and I think is one of my better pitches now,” a slider that “has a little more depth than the cutter,” and a four-seam changeup, which he has become more confident of over the year.

“Obviously, Colorado is not a pitcher’s park. It’s a hitter’s park,” McMahon added, “but at the end of the day, I’ve just got to try to figure out a way to get outs and win ball games — just keep my ball down a little bit. Part of my game is elevating velocity a little bit, so I’m definitely going to have to be a little careful about that in Colorado. I’ll make adjustments and see what I’ve got to do to get outs.”

McMahon liked the Rockies organization. He noted that former Cane Willie Abreu has reached out to him.

“Based off the Zoom call I had with [the Rockies], and the type of people I talked to, the culture there is something that really stuck out to me — the kind of family they have,” he said. “So I was pretty excited about that, knowing it’s going to be a good organization that is going to be there for me and help me in any way to get where I want to be. I’m excited to be a Rockie.”

When asked about Rockies players he’s familiar with, McMahon immediately cited Nolan Arenado — “I have his jersey, actually.”

He’s also confident of his mental toughness, a trait Bud Black values.

“When people watched me in college, when there were tough situations, I always beared down,” he said. “I’m aware you’re going to give up runs, you’re going to give up home runs — it’s all part of the game, it’s part of baseball. Everyone’s done it before, so you’ve just got to take your hits and keep moving.”

McMahon said that has spent the pandemic trying to stay ready.

“It’s a lot of time to get out of shape, and some people might get a little lazy during these long off times,” he said, “but I’ve been able to throw almost every single day, whether it’s just a light game of catch, have some days off here and there, but I’ve been throwing flat-grounds, just working on my pitches every single day.” McMahon has kept a regular conditioning schedule and mentioned that he has thrown three bullpens within the last month.

He’s also played a lot of golf during the lockdown.

“I go play with my dad,” he said, “[and] make sure he doesn’t beat me. I do have a lot of competitive energy dialed up inside me right now with all that’s going on and everything taken away.”

McMahon is glad to have the draft behind him.

“It was a big sense of relief, honestly, with all of the waiting that was going on the last couple of days,” he said. “But that moment was awesome, to have my parents there, my grandparents there, [and] a lot of my buddies from high school.”

He added, “It was just a really cool moment. This was the day I’ve been waiting for for a long, long time. It seems even longer with this whole pandemic going on.”

Chris McMahon, who was projected to be a first-round pick, was selected by the Rockies in the 46th slot of the second round. He “was not happy Wednesday night” about his late selection, explaining, “[It was] hard to sleep.” He added, “But [I’ll] just keep going and keep proving people wrong and show them that I didn’t deserve to slide to that, and I plan on doing that.”

Purple Row will continue to cover the MLB draft, including Rockies moves during the signing period. You can also read our pieces on Zac Veen, Drew Romo, and Case Williams as well as interviews with Jeff Bridich and Bill Schmidt. (See here and here.)