When Kevin McCarthy heard that he had been drafted by the Kansas City Royals, his father, Gene, had to pull over to the side of the road.
“We were driving home from my little brother’s Malverne Little League game, and I was refreshing the Twitter feed and saw my name pop up,” McCarthy recalled. “I was in shock, you know? And thankful, also. My dad was driving. He had to pull over, he was so emotional.”
McCarthy, a Malverne native who has lived in Rockville Centre with his father since 2004, always hoped he could play in the big leagues. But he never expected to be drafted before he even finished college. A senior at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, the right-handed pitcher was the 16th player in the school’s history to be drafted by a major league team. He was chosen on June 8 in the 16th round — and followed by Marist shortstop Zach Shank, who went to the Seattle Mariners.
McCarthy’s college record has been stellar — he was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Co-Reliever of the Year this season, and had a 4-3 record with five starts, eight saves and a 4.24 earned run average in 22 games. Yet despite his success, he never felt confident that he had a shot at a big-league career.
“It was funny, because I actually grew going into my junior year of high school. I was always the little guy,” McCarthy said. “So there was a point at which I was like, all these kids are a lot bigger and stronger than me, so … maybe it’s not worth it. My dad was like, give it another year, see what happens.”
Sure enough, McCarthy hit a growth spurt in his junior year at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, and the Firebirds began to feature him more prominently in their pitching lineup. In the summer before his senior year, while playing in a recreational league, he caught the eye of an assistant coach from Marist, who complimented his arm after the game. That fall he received an invitation to a prospect camp the college runs each year — and immediately impressed Chris Tracz, his future head coach.
“The stars aligned,” McCarthy said. “Because of the late growth spurt, I was very under the radar.”