The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

June 4, 2014

HERTZEL COLUMN: McBroom waiting for his shot in the bigs

MORGANTOWN — If time flies when you’re having fun, it stands to reason that time is just crawling along for Ryan McBroom.

Oh, he’s having fun back home in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with friends and family, the things you miss when you’re away at college, but it’s just that he wasn’t quite ready to go home. This was his final season as West Virginia University’s power-hitting first baseman and he thought he’d still be playing in some Super Regional somewhere.

That’s one of the reasons he turned down Kansas City’s offer a year ago when the Royals selected him in the 36th round of Major League Baseball’s draft, expecting to improve a number of areas in his game and join a group of closely knit teammates who felt they were ready to make a run deep into the NCAA Tournament under second-year coach Randy Mazey.

Who knew they wouldn’t get to postseason play?

Who knew he’d be home for this weekend’s draft rather than either playing a game or watching the opening round on Thursday with teammates?

And, with not really a whole lot to do awaiting the draft, time is sort of dragging … McBroom is trying to make the best of it.

“It’s exciting for both me and my family. I’m hearing a little bit from scouts here and there,” he said. “They showed a lot of interest during the course of the year. Now it’s just finishing up on some personal questions on whether you want to go and play pro ball and things like that.

“I have my degree and sometimes they deal with seniors who are more interested in going off on their career rather than being interested in going in the draft.”

The baseball draft isn’t like the NFL. They may bring the top 50 or so in for personal workouts and interviews, but when you are drafting as many as 1,200 players and adding free agent signings from around the world, they do a lot of gambling.

It’s why you see high picks fail with more regularity than in the NFL and lower picks succeed, the line being finer, many of the players drafted younger and many drafted without as much knowledge as you’d like to have.

In McBroom’s case, it’s pretty much what you see is what you get.

He can hit and, if they were paying attention, he committed only one error at first base all year.

What’s more, he took his senior year of baseball seriously and believes returning for it was a worthwhile endeavor, despite the disappointing finish on the season that produced seven consecutive losses and being left out of the postseason.

“We had a great year,” he maintains. “I met some of my best friends through baseball. I played for a great coaching staff. I developed not only as a baseball player but as a man as well. I think it was a great decision to come back.

“We didn’t make it as far as we wanted to in the Regionals but it’s nice to have a good year. We beat a lot of good teams and seeing four of those teams (Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma State) go on from our conference was pretty impressive.

“We don’t feel too bad about ourselves and I personally had a great time at West Virginia and developed an extreme amount.”

What he didn’t take from college was the experience of surviving down the stretch of a grueling season and into the postseason to play the best with it all on the line.

How did they manage to drop seven straight and nine of their last 10 when they were a team streaking toward the playoffs?

“We were playing top teams in the nation. We went to Texas Tech and played them right down to the wire. They walked off two nights in a row. It could have gone either way, but the ball rolled a little bit better for them,” McBroom said.

“We played Kansas that Friday night and we had them beat until the eighth or ninth inning. They just started slugging it in that eighth inning and put up a good amount of runs. I think it was just that we had to play some of the best teams in the country. We were seeing some great arms. That’s just baseball, for you.”

That he and the rest of the team could take the late-season stumble as an event that happened rather than as a crushing defeat that would take forever to get over can be traced back to the way Mazey’s coaching staff brought them along.

“He wants what’s best for us,” McBroom said. “I will go to him and ask him about life in general, what should I do about this or that, and he’ll be straight forward. He’s almost like a father figure who turns into a friend.

“He’s been there as a coach and a mentor. I had so many questions in my college life, and he has led me in the right direction. The coaches had that off-field relationship and that made us a strong team.”

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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