Every player in the Eastern League would welcome a callup to Majors, but a promotion to Triple-A would also be sweet for New Hampshire first baseman Mike McDade
and his family. That's because McDade was born and raised in Las Vegas, home of the top affiliate of the parent Toronto Blue Jays. His mother and cousins still live there.
"It would be exciting -- I could finally watch him play," said his mother, Eevy McDade, who has seen her son play in person just a few times as a pro and is yet to make the cross-country trip to New Hampshire this year.
McDade, 23, is certainly putting up numbers that may warrant a promotion soon. He hit .327 with nine homers and 29 RBIs in his first 171 at-bats this year with the Fisher Cats after he hit .281 with 16 homers and 74 RBIs last year with the league champs.
He was not dismayed about beginning the year back in New Hampshire.
"This is a good league. This is just a step away from the big leagues," said McDade, a sixth-round pick of Toronto in 2007 out of Silverado High School.
"Last year Mike had a real strong season and was a major contributor to the Eastern League champion," said Tony LaCava, assistant general manager for Toronto. "He played through a knee injury that affected his numbers at the end. He played in quite a bit of pain -- most players would have shut it down. His numbers this year are impressive but not a surprise.
"Mike has always been a very good defender. He works very hard at it and takes a great deal of pride in it," LaCava added.
McDade hit a home run in both games of a doubleheader Wednesday against Portland. The homers came from both sides of the plate and gave him a 10-game stretch in which he hit .324 with four round-trippers.
He was drafted as a catcher but has played first throughout his Minor League career. He hit just .221 with one homer in his pro debut with Bluefield in the Appalachian League, but hit 21 homers for Dunedin in the Class A Advanced Florida State League in 2010.
McDade began playing baseball when he was just 3 years old and joined a Little League in Las Vegas when he 5, according to his mother. He played with and against several players in high school who went on to the big leagues, including Chris Carter, who played for Oakland in 2010 and 2011 and went to Sierra Vista High.
McDade got to see another Las Vegas product, All-Star pitcher and Valley High graduate Gregg Maddux, at a camp prior to this season. Though his ultimate goal is Toronto, a callup to Las Vegas would also be nice for McDade.
"That would be awesome. My mother would be happy. She's my No. 1 fan," he said.
Roberts comes to Bowie: Major League veteran Brian Roberts, who has been out of action with concussion symptoms for more than a year, began a rehab assignment May 23 at Bowie and drew two walks and scored a run. Roberts was one of three rehabbing Orioles in the Bowie's starting lineup over the weekend as third baseman Mark Reynolds and left fielder Endy Chavez were also in action Sunday. Roberts had one hit in his first six at-bats with an RBI and a run scored.
Machado comes through: With the focus on Major League veterans in Bowie, teenage shortstop Manny Machado stole the show May 24 when he hit a walk-off single with two outs in the ninth inning to beat Richmond, 6-5. "I was just trying to get a good hit. I wasn't trying to do too much. I wasn't trying to hit it out of the park," said Machado, who turns 20 on July 6. He hit .254 in his first 169 at-bats with the Baysox.
Another big day in Portland: Reynaldo Rodriguez hit his 11th homer of the season and added two doubles for the Sea Dogs in a 8-5 win at home Sunday against New Britain. The native of Colombia has four homers and 13 RBIs in his last 10 games.