Matt McLaughlin and Josh Nashed have more in common than being Leland High School graduates and having impressive college baseball careers.
They both were selected in June’s Major League Baseball draft. McLaughlin was a 12th-round selection of the Colorado Rockies, and Nashed was a 19th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians.
“I hung up the phone … hugged my dad, it was crazy, holding back tears,” said McLaughlin about the call he received from the Rockies on Day 3 of the draft. “It felt like a dream come true. … I was able to get picked and my dad was following. It was great to share that with him.”
Nashed was playing the basketball game H-O-R-S-E with his brother Jayson when he received the good news from his agent Dana Corey.
“I’m just very thankful the Indians took a chance on me,” said Nashed, a right-handed pitcher.
Early in his junior season at San Jose State this year, Nashed felt tightness in his right arm. After taking a couple of weeks off with no hitting or throwing, he finished out the season as a designated hitter.
Nashed finished this past spring season with five pitching starts and 33 games on the field, including 26 as the starting designated hitter. He was 0-1 on the mound with a 4.97 earned run average and 22 strikeouts with only four walks in 25 1/3 innings pitched. He batted .262 with 13 RBI in 103 at-bats last season.
In 2016, Nashed led the team in ERA (4.79), innings pitched (88 1/3) and complete games (2), while pitching at least six innings in 10 of his 14 starts.
The Indians sent Nashed to New York to have Dr. David Altchek examine his arm, Nashed said. “We thought I would be needing Tommy John (surgery),” said Nashed about himself, his family and the Indians.
Altchek did a CT scan on the arm and there was good news. “I had a fractured bone spur in my elbow,” said Nashed, who was the Mercury News baseball player of the year in 2014 as a Leland senior. Nashed had surgery on the elbow in July. “I was expecting 12 to 16 months recovery (if it was a Tommy John surgery). Instead, it’s a three to four month recovery.”
Nashed is currently going through rehabilitation at the Indians’ spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona.
“The cool thing is how everything is planned out and everything is so organized in rehab … They put everything in place to help us succeed,” Nashed said. “I get to interact with guys from all different levels.”
McLaughlin is playing for the Short-Season A Boise Hawks. The 2014 Leland graduate is batting .311 in 35 games through Aug. 8, with 26 runs scored, 13 RBI and seven doubles.
“It’s been a blast,” the shortstop said. “A lot of what I heard going into professional baseball, there was less team camaraderie … It hasn’t been like that at all. It’s been super team-oriented and giving you every opportunity for success.”
McLaughlin was a three-time All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selection while at Kansas, batting .287 during his three-year collegiate career. In 2017, he led Kansas in batting average (.314) and doubles (19), and also drove in 39 runs and scored 41.
He mentioned the eight- to nine-hour bus rides after some night games for the Boise Hawks as being tough, but also said “the schedule is all centered around advancing your career. It puts into perspective that it’s your job.
“As far as just enjoyment of the game, it’s been incredible. I’m having more fun playing baseball now than I thought I would at this age.”
McLaughlin said the biggest adjustment he’s had to make was the travel.
“Playing seven days a week and not having days to rest your body … it’s been tough,” he said.
But McLaughlin put the whole experience into perspective, saying that for the most part, it’s the same game that he has been playing since he was a 5- or 6-year-old.
“My enjoyment and love for the game hasn’t changed,” he said.
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