When the Colorado Rockies dealt Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians last July, the players that were coming to the Rockies that most focused on were pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. While Pomeranz and White have made an impact for the Rockies at the big league level already, the only position player Colorado got in return for Jimenez, utility player Matt McBride, is enjoying a tremendous start to the 2012 season.
McBride currently leads all of Triple-A in hits with 46, as of May 11, and his .357 batting average is the sixth best in of all of Triple-A baseball. He leads the Sky Sox with four home runs, 22 RBI, 16 runs and 69 total bases, and has the most multi-hit games of any Colorado Springs player this season with 15.
McBride's impact is not only felt at the plate, but Lehigh University product has played in the outfield, the infield and at catcher for the Sky Sox this season. Coming in to this year, McBride had played nearly an identical amount of games at catcher (133), in the infield (131) and in the outfield (140). At Lehigh University, McBride was a finalist for the nation's top catching honors, the Johnny Bench Award, and led the school to its first ever NCAA Tournament.
McBride sat down to answer questions ranging from what he attributes his early season success to, his mindset being a utility player and the excitement of seeing his alma mater beat Duke in this year's NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Andrew Mitchell: You have gotten off to a pretty good start, currently leading Triple-A in hits. What do you attribute the success you have been able to have so far to?
Matt McBride: I'm really just trying to have good at-bats and swing at good pitches, and when I do I hopefully put a good swing on the ball so I can get on base. If you get a hit you get a hit, but really just trying to have a good at-bat every time I go to the plate. The biggest thing is you have to trust yourself, keep your routine the same and have the same mindset every game.
AM: You are currently batting over .400 in the cleanup spot this season. Do you have a different mindset when you bat at that spot in the lineup?
MM: I try to keep it all the same wherever I bat in the lineup, I try to not to make it too complicated. But if there is men on base, I try to especially not chase pitches and look for a good pitch to drive. If I do, hopefully I can knock in a run to help our team win.
AM: Coming in to this season you had played almost the same amount of games at catcher, infield and in the outfield? Is that something you have been doing your whole playing career?
MM: I pretty caught my whole life and through my college career. After my first full Minor League season in 2007 I had shoulder surgery. I was with the Indians at the time, and after I came back from that surgery they put me in right field and first base. Pretty much since 2008, I have played almost exclusively at those two positions before I caught eight games between Double-A and Triple-A last year. This year I did a lot of work in Spring Training on catching with Jerry Weinstein and Mark Foley. They really do a great job with all the catchers in the Rockies system getting work in, and it really prepared me for this season.
AM: Do you have a favorite position?
MM: All three positions are completely unique and require a different set of skills. Catching you're working with the pitcher calling the game, where as in the outfield and infield you may not be involved in most of the plays. Playing catcher you are involved in every single play, and you have to really be on your toes. You cannot take a play off when you're behind the plate. But I really like all the positions, they all present their different challenges. I love tracking down fly balls in the outfield as well as fielding ground balls in the infield. I wouldn't say I have a favorite position. Wherever they need me on a given day, I will be ready to give it my all at whatever position they put me.
AM: What was it like being one of the players in the blockbuster Ubaldo Jimenez trade last July?
MM: A bunch of my buddies and all of my family called me and texted when it happened. I was really excited after the trade happened, I thought this was a really good opportunity for me because the Rockies are a great organization. I really like all the guys I was traded with too with Pomeranz, White and Gardner, they are all good guys. Then in the offseason Putnam came over and that was really funny because now we have a bunch of former Indians players. I am really excited about this opportunity here.
AM: What are your goals for the rest of the season besides making it to the big leagues?
MM: Try and take it game by game, and not get too far ahead of myself. That's all I can do, and if I go out there and play hard every single game and give it my all. Whatever happens will happen, but I just need to take one day at a time.
AM: You led Lehigh University to its first NCAA Tournament birth during your last season at the school. What was that experience like?
MM: That was a lot of fun. I had a great time at Lehigh, and that season we went to the NCAA Tournament we had a really great team. We ended up winning the Patriot League, which was great, and I got to play in the Regionals which was a tremendous experience. I really enjoyed my time overall at Lehigh, and it was really awesome that we won the Patriot League in my final season there.
AM: Speaking of NCAA Tournaments, how excited were you when Lehigh University ousted Duke in the first round of the tournament this past March?
MM: I was definitely pretty excited about that. I was wearing my Lehigh shirt they whole next day, and especially around all the guys in Spring Training so everybody knew what Lehigh was about. It was a great moment for Lehigh, and it was just awesome.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.