New Jersey high school pitcher signs with the Phillies
Ocean City High School senior Jake McKenna got to live out a dream Sunday when he signed a professional baseball contract with his boyhood team, the Philadelphia Phillies. The 6 foot 7 inch lefthanded senior pitcher grew up rooting for them. His family even had season tickets and would go to Florida for Spring Training.
Sunday was the first day major league teams could sign undrafted free agents, and McKenna told the Press of Atlantic City that it was a dream come true and that he knew he wanted to sign with the Phillies even though he was contacted by other major league teams.
Big league teams couldn’t contact undrafted free agents until 9:00 am on Sunday; the Phillies called McKenna at 9:01. McKenna has accepted an athletic scholarship to St. Joe’s in Philly, but he told NJ.com that the unusual circumstances (the NCAA has granted college seniors an extra year of eligibility) of the pandemic made his choice easy, “With minor league teams potentially being cut next year and kids going back to college, it was going to be super tough next year. If I had the opportunity, I might as well take it.”
He will receive a $20,000 signing bonus, which is the maximum allowed for undrafted free agents this year. He was a relief pitcher as a junior but worked at the Baseball Performance Center in Pleasantville in the off season, putting on weight and adding velocity to his pitches. Exactly where he’ll be going and when are still up in the air with MLB on hold, but wherever and whenever it takes place, he’s excited to start his professional journey as a Phillie.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.