McKown looks to fight through rough start to pro career

 Mitch McKown stares into the distance during practice at the Bobby Mattic Training Centre Wednesday morning. The right-handed pitcher has his sights set on the big leagues after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. (Photo: Jaspreet Grewal)

 Mitch McKown stares into the distance during practice at the Bobby Mattic Training Centre Wednesday morning. The right-handed pitcher has his sights set on the big leagues after being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016. (Photo: Jaspreet Grewal)

By: Jaspreet Grewal

Canadian Baseball Network

DUNEDIN, FLA. - Mitch McKown admits he’s had difficulty staying in the moment on the mound. If he’s going to have a smooth ride to the big leagues, the key will be learning to focus. 

Drafted in the 21st round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2016, the right-hander knows pitching requires a tremendous amount of resilience and patience.

“There’s a lot of things that run through your mind,” McKown said Wednesday during practice at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. “The number one thing that you want to work on is taking one pitch at a time and focusing on executing that one pitch. You never really want to think ahead in pitching. You want to think simple.

“I struggled with doing that - as you can see in my rookie year. I kind of was thinking ahead and things snowball when you do that.”

Last year at Seminole State (junior) College at Sanford, Fla., he posted a 6.59 earned-run average in 42.1 innings with the Raiders, and with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays this past summer, the lowest rung on the minor-league ladder, he registered a 17.61 ERA in just 7.2 innings pitched.

The Orlando, Fla., native has certainly endured his fair share of drawbacks in the past couple of years, but he understands that maintaining a strong work ethic and a positive mindset is key to pushing through any barriers that may be perched in front of him. 

And at age 20, McKown has an ample amount of time to improve.

“I still have a lot of work to do, but I just keep on working and hopefully the best works out [for me],” he said. “I’ve always worked hard. That’s one thing that I have self-value in and that’s probably something (the Blue Jays) saw, too. 

“I’ll work as hard as I can and do whatever it takes.”