What To Expect: Ryan McMahon
Ryan McMahon took a big hit in his prospect status in 2016, struggling in his first Double-A season and falling out of the Baseball America Top 100.
He bounced back in a big way in 2017, however—all the way to the big leagues. The Rockies promoted McMahon, ranked No. 91 in our Midseason Top 100, to Colorado on Friday, adding him to the 40-man roster while demoting outfielder Raimel Tapia.
The Rockies currently lead the race for the National League’s two wild-card spots, and McMahon will be asked to contribute in a variety of roles off the bench with the ability to play three infield spots. The most likely spot is first base, with veteran Mark Reynolds dealing with a hand injury.
McMahon earned his way to the big leagues with a monster season, ranking among the minor league leaders in several key categories while batting .354/.401/.587 between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque. He leads the minors with 152 hits, 19 of them home runs, ranks fifth in the minors in batting and doubles (37) and ranks sixth with 82 RBIs.
McMahon, a 2013 second-round pick, is blocked at third base, his primary position, by Nolan Arenado. The Rockies have shifted him around different positions this season, with 49 starts at first base, 32 at second and 24 at third. McMahon has responded with his best season and solid defense as well, including a highlight-reel play during the Futures Game in Miami while playing first base.
First likely is McMahon’s best defensive home. He’s playable at second base thanks to his arm strength and body control, but not an asset according to scouts. He’s solid average at third base but a far cry from Arenado’s consistent brilliance. A solid athlete, McMahon has regained confidence, reined in some of his aggressiveness and feasted on mistakes this year while competing consistently against better pitching. Still, he has just two of his 19 homers against lefthanded pitchers, who had held him to a .236 average.
McMahon has improved his contact rate this season, shortening his swing and using the whole field more. That’s helped him get to his solid-average power, which at this stage plays more consistently to the gaps away from hitter’s paradises such as Albuquerque.
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WHAT TO EXPECT
Of course, McMahon will be playing at a hitter’s haven at Coors Field, but doing it against big league pitching, not the Pacific Coast League’s finest. With all due respect to the PCL, McMahon likely will find the sledding tougher against big league pitching, but he has the contact skills, power and versatility to be an asset for the Rockies down the stretch and to be a long-term fixture on the right side of the infield for a contender.