Interview with Blue Jays minor league pitcher Mitch McKown

TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: A MLB baseball rests on the mound prior the spring training game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Steinbrenner Field on February 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: A MLB baseball rests on the mound prior the spring training game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals at Steinbrenner Field on February 26, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Jays Journal had the opportunity to interview Mitch McKown, a 2016 draft selection and a pitcher in the Blue Jays’ organization.

I was able to get an interview with Toronto Blue Jays minor league pitcher Mitch McKown where we talk about all things baseball. We discussed his path to professional ball, the draft, minor league ball, coming back from an injury, and what he’s doing without games going on in the minors this season.

McKown was the Jays 21st round pick in the 2016 draft where he was drafted out of Seminole Junior College. His best season came in 2017 where in 16 games out of the bullpen, he went 3-1 with a 3.55 E.R.A. and a .198 opponent average.

The interview

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Reuben: Have you ever been to Canada before you got drafted? If not, what was your reaction to being drafted by the only team in Canada in the Blue Jays? ‘

Mitch: No, my first time in Canada was in 2018 when I was assigned to the Vancouver Canadians. Its was a very surreal moment getting my name called in the draft, I was pretty ecstatic. Knowing that the Blue Jays are one of the best when it comes to pitcher development, I was very excited to get the ball rolling with them and to start my career with a first class organization.

Reuben: When did you realize that baseball is something you could do for a living?

Mitch: My sophomore year of college is when the draft was becoming more and more of a possibility. I’d say that’s when I realized that I could make something of baseball. You don’t make much of a living in the minor leagues but the opportunity itself is priceless. Just have to enjoy the journey, make a story out of it and hopefully all the hard work and dedication will pay off.

Reuben: What is it like coming out of the bullpen? What’s the mentality when called upon to pitch in relief?

Mitch: It’s a pretty adrenaline packed job honestly. There can be some tight situations you are thrown into like a one run lead in the 8th and you have no outs and guys on first and second. So you have to have a really locked in hyper focused mentality to be able to compete after being cooped up in the bullpen for two hours. In a perfect world, I usually start my routine around the 4th or 5th inning depending on what’s going on the in game. For me, my routine is the gateway to getting myself into that mentality before I go perform.

Reuben: It seems like you’ve dealt with injuries a bit in your career. What is your mentality like and what do you do to try and get back on the field?

Mitch: Any negative thoughts I have I notice them right away, then bring my attention to the bigger picture with all the positive thoughts. I tell myself it’s all part of my journey and it’s going to be one hell of a comeback story. That helps me stay focused and on track from a mental standpoint. Physically, I realized there needs to be some changes in my routine that puts me in a better position to stay healthy. So I have implemented better ways to go about prep, recovery and taking in account of my workload from the previous day so I can go about my work on that current day properly. It’s all about having a plan and being disciplined enough to stick with it.

Reuben: What’s the difference between pitching in Rookie Ball and A-Ball?

Mitch: The difference is batters have a little better plan of attack against you. So their plate discipline is better. Also, it’s a bigger stage so more of an atmosphere to play in, which makes it a lot of fun! Especially in Vancouver where it’s Canadian fans backing you. Very surreal and incredible experience.

Reuben: What have you been doing to prepare for next season since the minor league season for 2020 has been cancelled?

Mitch: Just been training and keeping in shape. On the baseball side I’ve been treating this time like an actual season. My bullpens are more like a simulated games to make it more competitive rather than throwing a traditional bullpen. Just trying to find little ways to gain a competitive edge and to separate myself from others.

I love being a Blue Jay and I feel very fortunate to be apart of something greater than myself. Like I said before, this organization is first class from the inside out. From the front office to the coaches to the players to the fans and everyone in between!

Next. Is Montoyo just pulling names out of a hat?. dark

I and the rest of the Jays Journal team wish Mitch best of luck in his career. We hope to see him back out on the mound in 2021 and that he has a great, successful and healthy career ahead of him.