Getting Better All The Time
ATLANTAIt may not be much longer before lefthander Macay McBride is considered the poster boy for the Braves development program for high school pitchers.
After fine-tuning his mechanics last year under pitching coach Kent Willis, which led to McBride winning the low Class A South Atlantic Leagues ERA title, he was making steady progress with his mental approach while working with Myrtle Beach mentor Bruce Dal Canton. The results were becoming more impressive by the outing, with McBride ranking among the high Class A Carolina League leaders in strikeouts and ERA.
"Bruce really stresses the approach you take to the job and thats helped me already this season," said McBride, who went 3-1, 1.91 in his first 42 innings. "He pitched in the big leagues and coached up there, and he does a great job of putting everything in perspective. Youre not going to have your best stuff every time you take the mound, and as a starter you only pitch once every five games. Hes helped me make adjustments and know what to do when something isnt working on a given night."
Opposing hitters have produced a meager .225 average off McBride this year, as hes proving that he has more than just a low 90s moving fastball to get them out.
"Im more of a pitcher now than I was last year," said McBride, the 24th overall pick in 2001 out of a Georgia high school. "I think I was more of a thrower last season. You learn real fast at this level that you cant throw pitches past everybody. Ive noticed so far this season that the hitters in the Carolina League can put good wood on pitches even when youre ahead in the count."
McBride has shown more consistency with his hard slider, a sharp curveball and an improving changeup.
"Im really not working on improving any one of my pitches," McBride said. "Im mainly trying to work in my changeup more often to keep the hitters off-balance. Youre always told that pitching is more mental than physical and Im discovering how true that is."
Double-A Greenville first baseman Adam LaRoche retired two hitters in the second game of a doubleheader at Chattanooga. LaRoche, who can touch 91 on the radar gun, has been even more productive at the plate; he was hitting .277-8-22.
Righthander Anthony Lerew, the co-pitcher of the year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League last season, posted a 1.89 ERA and fanned 41 batters in his first 38 innings at low Class A Rome.
Previous organization report: Jason Marquis
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