Ryan McMahon might someday tell his grand kids about that month in 2017, the 30 days in June that changed the course of his professional baseball career.
McMahon, a former starting quarterback at Mater Dei who was a second round Major League Draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 2013, was promoted to Triple-A on June 1, and the 22-year-old didn’t let the opportunity go to waste, hitting .440 over the next four weeks.
His hot streak coincided with a downturn by the Rockies, who were in first place in the NL West as recently as June 20, but an eight-game losing streak dropped them six games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the final day of June.
The Rockies hit .198 during the eight-game losing streak, and a hot bat like McMahon’s could help kick start the offense.
McMahon, a natural third baseman who has also played first and second base in the minors, has two five-hit games since his promotion to Albuquerque, as well as a four-hit game.
“I think I’m consistently being the best version of myself,” McMahon told MiLB.com last month. “I’m not missing pitches and stuff like that, not trying to get too big and sticking with my approach.”
The Rockies had high hopes for McMahon when they made him the third pick of the second round in 2013. They paid him a $1.3 million signing bonus, but that same season Nolan Arenado, another Orange County native, was promoted to the majors and solidified himself as Colorado’s everyday third baseman.
McMahon immediately dominated the lower levels of the Colorado organization, but with Arenado standing in his way at the major league level, McMahon needed to adapt to a new position if he hoped to climb the ladder to the major league level.
“Obviously we have some great players at those positions. So whatever I can do to help, I will,” McMahon told the Denver Post during spring training.
He appeared to hit a wall in Double-A last season, hitting .242 in 133 games with Harford, but improved significantly at the start of this season and earned his promotion to Triple-A after hitting .326 in 49 games.
“I learned a lot last year — that’s probably the best way to put it — through all those struggles,” he said. “I’m just trying to apply everything I’ve learned and play the game in a mature way and take what the game gives me.”
McMahon has showed improved power and a better contact rate this season, and has made the transition to other positions relatively seamlessly.
On June 29, the same day he delivered his four-hit game, McMahon learned he had been selected to play in the Futures Game on July 9 in Marlins Park in Miami. The Futures Game is part of the All-Star Game festivities and features the top prospects in baseball.
McMahon has been in the spotlight before. He took over as the Mater Dei’s starting quarterback as a junior in 2011, following in the footsteps of two-year starter Max Wittek. The Monarchs finished 4-6 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1986.
McMahon returned the following season and kept his starting job, but was replaced by junior Chase Forrest at the start of the playoffs. Forrest led Mater Dei to the CIF-SS Pac-5 championship game.
The experience taught McMahon to take advantage of every opportunity, a teaching moment he aced during the month of June.