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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Alex McKeon: Boston Red Sox Catching Prospect Chats Baseball

The Boston Red Sox have high expectations every year and rely on the veteran foundation of their roster for their success. That being said, the team also places tremendous value on the cultivation of young talent to use at the big league level and as potential trade chips. A recent addition to this player development system is catcher Alex McKeon, who will see if he can eventually move up the ladder and play on baseball’s biggest stage.

After graduating from John Jay High School in Cross River, New York (where he finished with a .410 career batting average), the right-handed McKeon went on to play for Texas A&M International. He became a star, as he was selected as a member of the 2014 All-Heartland Conference first team, and also won a Gold Glove. That season, as a junior, he hit .354 with three home runs and 21 RBIs, ultimately earning his selection in the 31st round of that year’s draft by the Red Sox.

His college head coach, Chad Porter, was effusive in his praise for the receiver, stating "He's been a work horse. It's a well-deserved honor for him to be selected by the Boston Red Sox. No one will work harder and strive to live their dream more than Mac will.

"He is a leader on and off the field and he's something special to any team he's on."
Following signing with Boston, McKeon got into 28 games in the lower levels of the minors with two different teams. He hit .230 with six RBIs, while nabbing 39 percent of runners trying to steal on him.

This year, the 22-year-old is with the Lowell Spinners in short season ball (where he ended last season). The season has just started, so he is still getting his feet underneath him. In six games he has hit .227 with his first professional home run and one RBI. More information about his statistics is available here.

It will be interesting to see what is in store for McKeon but he couldn’t be in a better organization for his development than Boston’s, so he should have plenty of opportunity. In addition to keeping up with his games, you can also follow the prospect on Twitter.

This past offseason I had an opportunity to ask him the following questions.

Alex McKeon Interview:

Who was your favorite player when you were growing up, and why?: I loved watching the 90s’ Yankees. My favorite player was probably Jorge Posada but on any given day it could have been Jeter, Bernie or Paul O’Neil.

As a childhood New York Yankees fan, how were you able to reconcile becoming a member of the Red Sox organization?: Good question that I get a lot. I think that being drafted by a highly recognizable team probably made the experience even better. Being drafted by the Yankees would have been surreal, but growing up hating the Red Sox also allowed me to have a good understanding of their history, which is valuable now. 

You studied history in college. How did you get into that field, and what is your main area(s) of interest?: All throughout high school I never was given a choice of classes. History was always my favorite subject, and college gave me the opportunity to explore that field.

How did you first find out that the Red Sox were interested in you, and what was your draft experience like?: Happened the way I would imagine most lower round draft picks did. My college coach pushed area scouts to see me play; after some time the Sox and a number of other teams attended our last series of the year. I played well, and come draft day my phone rang. I really didn’t know if I would get drafted until I got the call.

What was the most helpful coaching/advice you received during your first professional season?: Nothing too specific. But I had amazing coaches in rookie ball. Especially our catching coaches, who we spent time with every day, learning about the difference in the “pro game” behind the plate.

What is the one part of your game that you hope to improve on the most?: As vague as it sounds, overall hitting ability; more specifically, power.

Who is one pitcher from any time in baseball history that you would like to face, and how would you approach the at-bat?: When I watch old baseball footage and see what kind of competitor Bob Gibson was, I think that an at-bat against him would be very intense and quite the experience.

What is more difficult, being able to call a game and work with a pitcher, or blocking pitches/controlling the running game?: I think it depends on the catcher. I’m pretty confident in my catching/throwing and receiving skills. Blocking is at the top of my list when it comes to refining my game defensively. Calling a game comes with experience and really paying attention to what works for a pitcher from game to game. 

**I’d like to note that compared to many, many minor and major league guys, I know very little about this game. I learned so much in the first year and expect the same this season.

You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

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