Keough Family Knows About Attention
Arizona juco prospect Shane Keough has a major league father, but his mother is the family's biggest celebrity
Celebrity is not new to the Keough family.
Two generations of Keoughs already have reached the major leagues. Marty played more than 800 big league games in the 1950s and '60s, his brother Joe played parts of six seasons, and Marty's son Matt was an all-star during a nine-year career that included 58 victories.
Those are the Keough family celebs Baseball America readers are familiar with. But Matt's wife Jeana, formerly Jeana Tomasina, has had her own share of celebrity. She was a Playboy model and as VH1 called her, a "video vixen" who appeared in several iconic ZZ Top music videos in the 1980s, such as "Legs" and "Sharp Dressed Man".
To Shane Keough, they're just parents. Now Jeana and Matt's son is chasing down his own celebrity as a toolsy, switch-hitting outfielder at Yavapai (Ariz.) Junior College. He's also found his own measure of notoriety in a supporting role to his mother on "The Real Housewifes of Orange County," a reality show on cable's Bravo television network.
"Early in my life, it was a little different, because my dad was playing, and my mom was still modeling, and they both would get recognized," Shane Keough said. "It wasn't a big deal for a while, but now everywhere she goes, people recognize my mom from this TV show."
The attention generated by the show--which follows the lives of five families in the tony Orange County, Calif., community of Cota de Caza--has surprised everyone in the family, which got involved through a family friend associated with the show. The way the show portrays it, Jeana, now a successful real-estate agent, takes center stage shepherding her children while Matt is away scouting. "When I saw it was going to be so superficial," Matt says, "I checked out."
While Shane has had interest in acting previously and auditioned for parts, his mother says his baseball success and experience with "Real Housewives" has cinched which field he wants to pursue.
"If baseball doesn't work out, maybe he can fall back on it, but we know a lot of scouts, and they all say that unless he gets injured he's got a baseball career," Jeana Keough said. "He's ambidextrous, he's the fastest person in the family, and the friends of ours who are scouts will come up to me at games and just say, 'Ooh, all his moves are so explosive.' He's just a little freak."
Keough's tools do excite scouts, including his dad, who works for the Athletics as a special assistant to general manager Billy Beane. The A's made Shane a 36th-round draft-and-follow last June, and have watched with interest as the freshman has helped Yavapai to a 51-10 record and No. 2 national ranking in the NJCAA. Using wood bats for a team that was hitting a collective .342, Keough was hitting .314-5-29, adding 21 stolen bases in 24 attempts.
The Roughriders have 10 players under control to teams from last year's draft, including Milton Loo (Reds), the team's best prospect because of his five-tool ability and above-average defense on the left side of the infield. Yet Keough may have the team's highest ceiling.
Even though he's a possible third-generation big leaguer, Keough is not a polished player. He played five games in his final two high school seasons due to a broken collarbone and academic problems stemming from transferring schools between his junior and senior years. He also is switch-hitting for the first time against real competition. In other words, he's not a typical A's prospect.
"He's finally having his junior and senior years now," Jeana says with a sigh. "Sometimes I think to myself if he had just concentrated a little more on his schooling, what he's doing this year could have happened last year."
Scouts are more interested, of course, in what could happen down the line. While scouts don't like to talk about players whose rights are controlled by other organizations, Keough is impossible to ignore for the scouts who come to check in on players their organizations control or the other Roughriders players. One area scout ticked off Keough's negatives—raw, showing inconsistent running speed and hitting ability, questionable instincts—and still compared him to Steve Finley.
Matt Keough tries to take off the scout hat when he watches his son play, but it's obviously difficult for a scout to watch a baseball game without grading out tools. And his scouting report sounds awfully similar to those of the area scouts who asked not to be quoted for this story.
"He has more physical tools of the three of us in the family who played in the major leagues," Matt says. "But it takes a special cat to make it to the big leagues.
"You'd think he'd know how to play and not be that physically gifted, but it's the other way. You're talking about a guy with a 6-foot-3, 195-pound body, who switch-hits, has 70 range in center field (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and plus power, and is a plus runner. There aren't many guys in the big leagues like that. I didn't think the power would come so quickly."
Having grown up an A's fan, Shane said he hopes the organization signs him so he can work with farm director Keith Leippman, whom he considers a friend and key influence. If that doesn't work out, he could return to Yavapai as a sophomore, and he's committed to Long Beach State if he makes it to his junior year and still isn't playing pro ball.
With his prodigious tools, though, Keough can't hide from scouts. Besides, they might have seen him on TV.