McKenzie fulfills 'dream-like moment' by signing with Tribe
17-year-old right-hander taken 42nd overall as comp pick
ST. PETERSBURG -- Triston McKenzie stood up from the bench in the visitors' dugout at Tropicana Field, surveyed the field and flashed a smile. After signing his first professional contract with the Indians on Tuesday, the young pitcher was trying to soak in his Major League surroundings.
"I wish I was in Cleveland right now," McKenzie said. "I've been to this field before."
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Rays, McKenzie -- a native of West Palm Beach, Florida -- arrived at Tropicana Field with his parents and brother. Inside the clubhouse, the 17-year-old right-hander officially signed with the Indians, who selected him with the 42nd overall pick in the Competitive Balance A round of the Draft.
With the signing, which came with a $2,302,500 signing bonus, Cleveland has inked all 11 of its picks from the Draft's first 10 rounds.
"It's a dream-like moment for me right now," McKenzie said. "You always dream of playing for a professional baseball team, and it's actually coming to fruition right now."
McKenzie chose to sign with the Indians rather than attend Vanderbilt University.
"It was a very tough decision," McKenzie said. "But, in the end, it kind of came down to my love of the game and my drive to play baseball and my dream to play professional baseball."
Shortly before McKenzie signed his contract, Indians manager Terry Francona chatted with the young pitcher and his family. The manager got a kick out of seeing the young, skinny pitcher show up to the ballpark wearing a bright red tie.
"My goodness. The kid shows up in a tie," Francona said with a smile. "I just thought that was really impressive. Obviously, the kid was going to go to Vanderbilt. But, when you meet the family, it was five minutes, but that was very enjoyable and I'm looking forward to just visiting with him a little bit more."
During his senior season at Royal Palm Beach High School, McKenzie turned in a 0.79 ERA and finished with 157 strikeouts and 16 walks in 91 innings. The lanky right-hander throws a fastball, changeup and curveball and topped out at 95 mph this past year. Listed at 6-foot-5, 160 pounds, McKenzie has plenty of potential to fill out and add velocity.
Asked if the Indians have instructed him to start eating more, McKenzie laughed.
"Everybody's been telling me that since I was about six," he replied.
Kidding aside, McKenzie said being drafted by the Indians was a moment he'll never forget.
"I didn't react to it immediately," McKenzie said. "I couldn't really perceive the moment, per se. It was kind of like I was in shock almost. I didn't really start trying to take it in and understand the moment until a couple of days after. I got a lot of congratulations, so that kind of opened my eyes to how big of a deal it was, not only for myself, but for other people as well."