PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies rookie Ryan McMahon took an early-season demotion to Triple-A Albuquerque as a reminder to stick to a plan -- one that came to fruition with his first Major League homer in the eighth inning of Thursday's 9-3 loss to the Phillies.McMahon, 23, entered the year the club's
PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies rookie Ryan McMahon took an early-season demotion to Triple-A Albuquerque as a reminder to stick to a plan -- one that came to fruition with his first Major League homer in the eighth inning of Thursday's 9-3 loss to the Phillies.
McMahon, 23, entered the year the club's No. 2 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and made the team in Spring Training amid much fanfare. He launched a Hector Neris 85.6 mph sinker a Statcast-estimated 410 feet with a 106 mph exit velocity over the center-field wall. McMahon didn't think it would go that far at first.
"I rounded first pretty hard, but it felt pretty good to see it go over the wall," said McMahon, who started at third base as manager Bud Black gave All-Star Nolan Arenado the day off.
A 2013 second-round pick out of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., McMahon blossomed last year by hitting .355 with 20 home runs and a .986 OPS combined at Double-A Hartford and Albuquerque, before going 3-for-19 in brief Major League action. After making the Major League roster this year, McMahon went 9-for-50 before being sent back to Triple-A.
Throughout his career, even as an amateur, McMahon has always concentrated on driving balls in the air the opposite way when struggling -- all with the trust that his natural ability would produce straightaway and pull shots. McMahon felt he needed a coherent plan, as he is playing part-time with Ian Desmond making most of the starts at first base.
Since his return, McMahon has hit .231 with a triple, three doubles and a homer, and the plan is working. According to Statcast™, from May 26-30, four of his six hits went the opposite way, as did eight of his 14 batted balls. The other batted balls either barely reached the outfield or stayed in the infield. McMahon has a single and a triple to the pull side and Thursday's homer to center, plus nine of his 13 batted balls have been to center or the pull side, with a couple of deep outs to the pull side.
The Rockies envision McMahon being able to pull pitches into the seats, but they are working with him through a steady process.
"I'm still staying in the same way, just feeling my direction better," McMahon said. "You're starting to see more balls go to right field, center field and away when they're supposed to. I like the direction I'm heading."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.