Some guys feel they're just cut out for the bullpen and Kyle McKenzie believes in the 'bullpen mentality'.
"I was a starter before I had Tommy John, but they didn't want me to pitch too many innings when I came back," he said Saturday on a road trip to Connecticut with the Hudson Valley Renegades. "You need to be able to lock in quick. You don't when you'll pitch. I love it."
So far, the righty is adapting just fine to pro ball. His experience since being selected in the 20th round as a senior out of Tulane University has spanned 21 innings through 14 appearances. He began the season in Gulf Coast League, then briefly jumped to the Appalachian League, before his promotion to Short-A Hudson Valley of the New York Penn League. He has a 1.38 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, with 12 strikeouts through 13 innings for the Renegades.
The Boston Massachusetts native's road to the Rays included being drafted in the 30th round by the New York Yankees, while attending Thayer Academy High School, in 2009. The difficulty of continuing their education or signing with the team that's drafted them comes down to many factors. We think we know the process well, but digging deeper, there's always details that emerge that illuminate just how crucial a decision it is.
"At the time, someone put it to me like this, 'Do you want to be an eighteen-year old kid or an eighteen-year-old adult?'I wanted to polish my skills and grow up," he said.
As it goes in the beginning of playing professionally, adapting is key. McKenzie quickly understood what he needed to do to develop and excel.
"I'm getting ahead of guys more and not leaving the ball up. It's about establishing a routine and making quick adjustments."
There's only a few weeks left of the season and in the time he has left, he has a few key areas of focus.
"Learning how to be able to read guys. Just staying locked in. It's between the ears, and I'm learning that every single day."
You can follow Kyle McKenzie on Twitter @kmckenzie13.
Read my continued Rays MiLB coverage on Minor League Ball. Check out more draft updates this week there.