June 19, 2013

McMullen begins path to pros

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star


Within a few weeks, Blake McMullen's trek in baseball has quickly changed scenery from university fields in Chickasha to the deserts of Arizona.

Now, the right-handed pitcher from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma who was drafted by the Oakland Athletics just over a week ago knows he will spend a little more time getting used to the hot, dry conditions of Phoenix while he takes any chance he can get in rookie league play.

"I'm staying here for an Arizona league," McMullen said. "It's just rookie ball. You're not going to get a lot of innings, but it's just a way to keep playing and stay in baseball. I think it's a good place for me right now."

The 22-year-old McMullen spent the first week after Oakland selected him in a camp with other prospects, where he had a bullpen session and spent most of the time in training exercises. 

Until his senior year, McMullen wasn't aware of how good his chances were in the draft. He admits that even now, the thought of being on a path to professional baseball is hard to process.

"I talked to scouts early on in my college career, but it wasn't until last fall, my senior year, that I knew it was probably going to happen," McMullen said. "It's hard to explain. It's just crazy to think about actually being picked."

Even when he knew professional teams were showing some interest, McMullen said he found it simple to continue playing as he always had.

"I just went out and tried to do my job; I don't think it really added pressure," he said. "If it was going to happen, it would happen. And if it didn't, I would just keep going."

McMullen will begin rookie league play on Thursday, and that will continue until Aug. 31. 

"At that point, I'll come back to Chickasha," he said. "There's an instructional camp in October back out in Arizona that I'll go to if I'm invited. If not, I won't go back until February and get a workout schedule to keep in shape."

In the meantime, McMullen keeps tabs on former Drover teammate and fellow prospect Brian Vigo, who was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals last week as a free agent.

"I'm very excited for him," McMullen said. "We stay in touch. It's good to have someone to talk to that's going through the same thing. It's also pretty cool to see how different teams are organized."