Last year Mahoney joined the Staten Island Yankees after his 16th round selection out of Brigham Young Univiersity, and got to work quickly, displaying his skills on the mound. Eager to show the team what he could do, he got off to a great start, and kept it going throughout the short-season. In 12 games last year, he posted an excellent 2.29 ERA over 55 innings pitched and in the process picked up 50 strikeouts as well.
By early September, he really found his groove. During the week from September 7-14, 2015, he won the Pitcher of the Week Award in the New York-Penn League. Over that span, he found his consistency very crucial to that success and he credits his performance to the effectiveness of his fastball and changeup.
“My fastball command, that's the big thing that I live off of and when you have that, it makes all your other pitches a lot better,” Mahoney said. “I also worked on my changeup a lot too, to get that to have more depth be able to use it not just as a get me over pitch but as a strikeout pitch.”
For Mahoney, his success didn’t end there as he spent his offseason developing his pitches further, preparing for the 2016 season, and learning about how to be more effective as a pitcher.
“Probably…just learning how to pitch to better hitters and to try to develop my pitches more," he said of his offseason work, "live down in the zone, work the corners of the strike zone a little better.”
As this is Mahoney’s second year with the Staten Island Yankees, he has gained experience as to how advanced hitters are in the league, and has taken that into account this year to become more aware of how to pitch better.
“My pitches are a little bit more developed," he said. "I'm a little bit older. I got a little wiser on how to pitch people and I learned a lot from last year, being in pro ball.
"The discipline of the hitters is a lot better [here], so you have to figure out ways to get them out, strike them out, get them to roll over, do different things in different ways, your pitches have to be a little bit sharper."
Before this season began in the New York-Penn League, Mahoney was focused on perfecting his pitches in Extended Spring Training. There, he excelled, by working on his fastball command [which has ranged from 90-93 MPH] and concentrating on getting ahead of hitters.
While Mahoney really dedicated himself to his work ethic over that period, the SI Yankees coaching staff took notice. In particular, the team’s pitching coach, Travis Phelps, pointed out that Mahoney was working on several parts of his game there.
“There were a couple things: pitching down in the zone with his fastball, really working off of it, and pitching off of it,” Phelps noted. “We really put an emphasis on that with a lot of our guys, and he's one of those guys where we saw an increase in his velocity this spring; so we really wanted to use that to our advantage, and have him pitch a little more off of that fastball.”
Additionally, while Mahoney’s fastball development continues to get progress, he has also become much more composed on the mound.
“He's very under control," Phelps noted, referencing Mahoney’s presence and poise on the mound that he displayed over that period. "He has a very good idea of what he's doing out there on the mound and has a good idea of what he wants to do. He sticks to the game plan and he does a great job of executing pitches.”
Despite his consistent growth and success this season, Mahoney has yet to advance in the Yankees farm system. As with any organization though, roster spots are extremely tight, and whether he advances or not is beyond his control at the moment.
Nonetheless, his accomplishments so far have been well documented. After last season’s strong opening, he was sent back to Staten Island this year. The team’s Manager, Dave Bialas, believes that Mahoney is mature and composed, and that he is ready to pitch at higher levels should a spot open up. According to Bialas, Mahoney just gets a little lost in the upper-level depth right now.
“Probably numbers, you have all these players fighting for one job, that's Charleston or possibly Tampa,” Bialas commented. “[Mahoney’s] going to pitch in a higher classification; he has a chance to pitch in the big leagues with his fastball, his breaking pitches, and his composure on the mound. He has really good composure…he stays calm all the time, he's a good teammate.”
So far this season, Mahoney has pitched very well. Over 19 innings, he’s pitched to a 0.95 ERA, and his record is 3-0. Even though he doesn’t have too many innings under his belt thus far, he has located his fastball just fine. He has 19 strikeouts and only three walks, and has only allowed one home run.
“He's looked fantastic," Phelps reiterated. "He's done everything that's been asked of him, absolutely thrown the ball tremendously and I think that's a credit to the type of person he is, and the type of competitor he is, and I think that's the reason you're going to see him get an opportunity at the next level before the season is over.”