Jake McCarthy Takes Initiative With His Swing
The Diamondbacks try not to make mechanical changes with prospects in their first year out of the draft, opting instead to see if their way of doing things will work as a professional. Outfielder Jake McCarthy, however, took matters into his own hands during his pro debut.
McCarthy listened in on conversations coaches had with teammates, then went about making swing adjustments on his own. The supplemental first-rounder put together a strong pro debut and believes that he might only be scratching the surface of his offensive potential.
"I’ve always been pretty fast, so getting on base has been my thing,” McCarthy said. "If I can hit for more power while still being able to hit for contact and do that, why not try it?”
McCarthy, whom Arizona selected 39th overall out of Virginia in June, hit .288/.375/.443 with 21 stolen bases in 58 games, nearly all of which came at short-season Hillsboro.
Coming out of college, the 21-year-old lefthanded hitter had an approach that was contact-oriented, with a swing that could look stiff and upper body-centric. He has worked to incorporate his lower half to unlock more of his athleticism.
"I think the more athletic I can be in the box, the better off I am,” McCarthy said. "As the season went on, especially with more repetitions . . . the bigger hacks I was able to take and the more body parts I was able to get involved in my timing and my swing. That’s going to be a thing I’m going to consistently work on. It’s definitely improved since I’ve got to pro ball.”
Even with limited power—McCarthy hit just five home runs in more than 300 college at-bats and just three as a pro—he still has an interesting array of tools. He has bat-to-ball skills, plate discipline, speed and baserunning ability, and scouts give him a good chance to play above-average defense in center field.
He’s part of an impressive collection of low-level position players the D-backs have assembled, a group that includes outfielders Kristian Robinson and Alek Thomas and shortstops Geraldo Perdomo and Blaze Alexander.
McCarthy probably opens 2019 at high Class A Visalia, a level above the others, but he saw enough of them during this past season and in instructional league to be encouraged about the future.
"When you watch them play and realize they’re two or three years younger than most of the competition,” McCarthy said, "it’s definitely exciting for the organization.”
Arizona Diamondbacks 2018 MLB Draft Grades
Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy and Blaze Alexander are among the Arizona Diamondbacks draft picks who stood out.
• Righthander Tyler Mark was struck in the head by a 103 mph line drive off the bat of Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on Oct. 10 in the Arizona Fall League. Mark suffered a concussion but recovered quickly and was back pitching for Salt River a little more than two weeks later.
• Catcher Renae Martinez began the AFL season with Salt River but was transferred to Surprise to pick up more at-bats. He was one of three D-backs catching prospects—Daulton Varsho and Dominic Miroglio being the others—with Salt River.