Austin McGeorge focused on third base for most of his high school career in Anaheim, California, before resuming pitching his senior year.
Good fortune then turned into an opportunity to walk on at Long Beach State, which he parlayed into becoming the New York Mets' seventh-round pick earlier this month. He now is pitching for the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley attended the final prep game McGeorge pitched and ended up inviting him to walk on with the highly regarded Dirtbags college program, which also sent the Mets infielder Jeff McNeil in 2013.
“I had absolutely no offers,” McGeorge said. “To be honest, I didn’t know if I was going to go to juco to pitch, or just go to school to go to school. It was coming to the end of the season and he showed up.
“He brought me around campus a little bit and he said, ‘It is between you and another guy, and we’re not quite sure who we’re going to give the open walk-on spot to.’ So I just texted a couple of times, like, ‘Hey, I really would love to be a Dirtbag.’ A couple of weeks later he called me up and said, ‘Hey, it seemed like you really wanted to come here more than the other guy did.’ So they gave me a shot, and that’s pretty much how I walked onto Long Beach.
“It wasn’t even a high-level game,” McGeorge continued, referring to the high school game Buckley attended. “It was just our last game I was pitching, just an average team in our conference. I had a rough first inning. I was just really nervous with him there. And then I kind of settled in and fought through adversity. He liked that. That’s what he told me. That’s why he gave me a shot.
“As I said, I had no offers. It was the first time I ever had a head coach for a college or anything sit and watch my pregame bullpen. So that was pretty nerve-wracking.”
McGeorge, a 6-foot-2 right-hander, made his pro debut on Saturday with the Cyclones. He tossed a perfect ninth inning, striking out one batter, in a 6-4 loss to Hudson Valley.
He exclusively served as a reliever at Long Beach State. In 33 relief appearances for the Dirtbags this past season, he had a 1.02 ERA and .197 opponent batting average. He struck out 76 and had a 0.92 WHIP in 53 innings.
“My approach in college was just to get ahead early and try to put them away late,” McGeorge said. “That’s kind of what I did here [Saturday]. Even though I had a high strikeout rate, that wasn’t my main goal. My main goal wasn’t to strike these guys out. I’m going to pitch down in the zone. I’m going to get ahead. And then when I’m up, I’m going to make sure I put them away.”
The 21-year-old McGeorge throws a four-seam fastball, sinker and slider. He’s also working on a changeup. He relies on the sinker, which sits at 88-91 mph and tops out at 92 mph.
“The changeup is slowly coming in,” McGeorge said. “I’m learning a lot here from the pitching coach, and a lot of the guys are teaching me the changeup, so I’m starting to throw that a little more.”
Average: Anthony Dirocie, GCL Mets, .375; T.J. Rivera, Vegas, .361; Brandon Nimmo, Vegas, .328; Gavin Cecchini, Vegas, .327; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, .318; Wuilmer Becerra, St. Lucie, .318; Kenny Hernandez, GCL Mets, .313; Dionis Rodriguez, Kingsport, .313; Roger Bernadina, Vegas, .306; Travis Taijeron, Vegas, .306.
Homers: Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 12; Marc Krauss, Vegas, 11; Dilson Herrera, Vegas, 11; Johnny Monell, Vegas, 11.
RBIs: Travis Taijeron, Vegas, 66; David Thompson, Columbia, 54; T.J. Rivera, Vegas, 52; Dominic Smith, Binghamton, 49; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, 46.
Steals: Champ Stuart, St. Lucie, 21; Amed Rosario, Binghamton, 14; Patrick Biondi, St. Lucie, 12; Roger Bernadina, Vegas, 11; J.C. Rodriguez, Columbia, 11.
ERA: Luis De Los Santos, GCL Mets, 0.00; Thomas Szapucki, Kingsport, 0.00; Ezequiel Zabaleta, GCL Mets, 0.00; Merandy Gonzalez, Brooklyn, 0.79; Carlos Hernandez, GCL Mets, 1.29; Jake Simon, Kingsport, 1.80; P.J. Conlon, St. Lucie, 1.90; Ricky Knapp, St. Lucie, 1.94; Erik Manoah, Brooklyn, 2.45; Harol Gonzalez, Brooklyn, 2.55.
Saves: Alex Palsha, Columbia, 12; Corey Taylor, St. Lucie, 9; Paul Sewald, Vegas, 9; Akeel Morris, Binghamton, 6; Beck Wheeler, Binghamton, 6.
Strikeouts: ; Joe Shaw, Columbia, 79; Tyler Pill, Binghamton, 77; Sean Gilmartin, Vegas, 68; Kevin Canelon, Columbia, 65.
Binghamton first baseman Dominic Smith, Las Vegas second baseman Dilson Herrera, St. Lucie manager Luis Rojas and Columbia manager Jose Leger will represent the Mets in the Futures Game on July 10 at Petco Park in San Diego. Smith is hitting .259 with a career-high seven homers and 49 RBIs and has a .319 on-base percentage. Herrera is hitting .274 with 11 homers, 44 RBIs and a .319 OBP.
Michael Conforto is 4-for-12 with two walks and one strikeout in three games since a demotion to Las Vegas. Kevin Plawecki also is 4-for-12 since joining the 51s, with one double, two RBIs and three walks.
T.J. Rivera pinch hit on Tuesday for Las Vegas in his first action since June 14. Rivera had been sidelined with a pulled right hamstring.
The Mets released infielder Danny Muno on Tuesday. Muno, 27, hit .148 (4-for-27) with the big-league club last season. He was hitting .239/.391/.318 in 110 plate appearances with Las Vegas.
Left-hander Darin Gorski returned to the organization after a stint in independent ball with the Somerset Patriots. The Mets needed help in the Triple-A rotation with Logan Verrett and Sean Gilmartin now in the majors and Robert Gsellman on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury. The 28-year-old Gorski, a seventh-round pick by the Mets in 2009, allowed four runs in five innings at Reno on Friday in his season debut with Las Vegas.
Highly regarded shortstop prospect Amed Rosario is off to a quick start after a promotion from St. Lucie to Binghamton. Rosario is hitting .429 with six RBIs and a walk in six games since joining the B-Mets. He also has two errors. Also promoted at the season’s midway point: second baseman Vinny Siena and left-hander P.J. Conlon from Columbia to St. Lucie.
Slicking-fielding Luis Guillorme has returned to his natural shortstop position with St. Lucie after being reassigned to second base for the first half of the season while playing alongside Rosario. Guillorme, who did have a costly error on Tuesday, also manned shortstop for Spain in a World Baseball Classic qualifier in March.
Center fielder Ivan Wilson, the Mets’ third-round pick in 2013 out of high school in Louisiana, has retired. He was hitting .197 with six homers and 22 RBIs in 213 at-bats with Columbia. Wilson, an accomplished prep football player, is considering a football career either in college or the Arena Football League.
Shortstop Colby Woodmansee, the Mets’ fifth-round pick out of Arizona State, is hitting .393 (11-for-28) with Brooklyn in his first seven pro games.
Left-hander Thomas Szapucki struck out 13 in six scoreless innings with Kingsport in his season debut. Szapucki, 20, was the Mets’ fifth-round pick in 2015 out of high school in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“Farm Report” appears on Wednesdays during the regular season