TigsTown Q&A: 27th Rd Pick Pat McKenna

Pat McKenna came out of small Bryant University as a smaller infielder in the 27th round. But just because McKenna is from a small school doesn't mean he has a small game.

TigsTown: How did it feel to be drafted by the Tigers, and how does it feel to get things underway in your pro career?

Pat McKenna: You always dream about being able to play professional baseball as a little kid, then as the years go on you're in high school and you hear about guys getting drafted, and then again in college, and you're just kind of wishing you could be the same. You really never know what's going to happen with chances at the right time, injuries, and stuff like that, so it feels really good to get drafted after knowing where I was as a high school and college player.

TT: Tigers Area Scout Garrett Guest mentioned that he had talked to you quite a bit heading into and throughout the college season, so were you expecting the Tigers to draft you, or were there other teams interested that left you a little unsure about which direction you might be heading?

PM: I actually got a lot of questionnaires from teams, then talked to about five or six teams. I didn't really know what my standing was, but then a couple of guys called back just to make sure everything was going alright. Garrett had been one of those guys in touch throughout the season. He called me after the season was finished and explained the draft process, when they typically take seniors, and stuff like that. At that point, I kind of figured I might be a Detroit Tiger.

TT: You've had an opportunity to get down to Lakeland, and despite all the rainouts, you've at least played a few games, what's it been like getting your pro career underway?

PM: As far as competition, the big difference between rookie ball and college is there is a lot more raw talent out there. Some of these guys are only 18 or 19-years old and haven't been through a college season. A lot of these guys have a lot of tools, but you don't know if they are going to pan out to what they could be. Pitching wise, guys will throw a little harder, but they don't seem to be able to locate their stuff quite as well. The other difference I've seen, in high school or college they are all good players, but there might be that hole in the lineup, where as in the pros, there aren't really any holes!

TT: You mentioned that raw talent, Pat, and while you haven't had a chance to play a ton of games due to the rainouts, you have had a chance to workout with the crew and get to know some of the guys. Who are some of the guys that have stood out to you on that Gulf Coast League squad?

PM: Ramon Lebron, the right-hander. He's young and he's not that filled out, but he topped out at 97 a couple of weeks ago. A guy that small and throwing that hard right now, if he gets built up a bit and has a good work ethic, I think he could be one of the really good players from this team. As far as positional players, the kid Londell Taylor from Oklahoma. He's at that stage in his minor league career right now where he knows what needs to be done, and he's got the body, speed, strength, and baseball awareness. He could really pan out to be a good player.

TT: In the limited time you've worked with the coaching staff down there, have they talked to you at all about what your role is going to be on the team or in the organization?

PM: Not really. I got down here about two and a half weeks ago, and I've been working out at second. I haven't really worked out at shortstop, which is where I played in college, but personally if I were to try and go to higher levels, I would probably be more of a second baseman than a shortstop. A couple of days they've asked me if I play outfield, or if I ever played outfield in college. I'm not sure what they're goal is there, but I basically just told them that whatever gets me in the lineup, I'll do it.

TT: Looking back at your college career a bit Pat, I had a chance to talk to Coach Pinzino a little bit, and he raved about your contributions to the team there at Bryant. What were some of the highlights for you in college?

PM: My sophomore and junior season really stand out because that's when we made the D-II regional finals. We lost both times to the same team, but those two seasons where we brought in quite a bit of younger classmen, we weren't quite sure how we would do after a miserable freshman season. We wanted to turn things around, so we were hoping that these younger guys could step up and help us. They did that, as well as some of the older guys stepping up. Both years were just good seasons overall, making it to that regional championship. Our junior season we kind of had a bulls eye on our back making it the year before, and we had to live up to expectations, but we did that. The senior year is always memorable, but I would stay my sophomore and junior seasons will always be the ones I remember most.

TT: Are there any final words you'd like to leave our readers with?

PM: I'm glad to be a Tiger! Professional baseball has been what I've dreamed about since I was a young kid. If I just keep working hard, I think I can keep going through the ranks and just find a way to help every team I play on in the organization.

TigsTown would like to thank Pat for taking time away from his daily routine and game schedule to speak with us. We look forward to seeing him on the field throughout the GCL season, and we wish him the best of luck as he embarks on his lifelong dream.

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