McBeth was an early season call-up to Sacramento.
Starting the season as the closer for A-Stockton, Marcus McBeth was practically unhittable. In eight appearances he recorded seven saves, 14 strikeouts, and allowed only one hit and no runs. He also had a solid 7:1 K:BB ratio. He threw his fastball in the mid-90s, but it was his changeup that really kept Cal League hitters off-balance. Teammates remarked that the pitch was almost unhittable. All of this led to an early call-up to AAA for McBeth. Paul Rathert recently caught up with McBeth.
Marcus McBeth has only been pitching for the lesser part of two seasons. Drafted as an outfielder out of the University of South Carolina, McBeth struggled at the plate once he reached single-A although he was a stand-out on defense. The A’s saw something in McBeth’s strong throwing arm and convinced him to take the mound. In the 2005 Arizona Fall League, he pitched four innings across four games and allowed only one run against some of the best minor leaguers.
After watching McBeth pitch in several dominant outings with the Ports this season, OaklandClubhouse’s Paul Rathert was able to catch up with Marcus after a recent River Cats game and he was gracious with his time after his team suffered a tough 6-5 loss. Triple-A did not welcome him kindly (he’s allowed eight runs in four appearances, five of those coming in one outing), but he is already working on adjustments to help him succeed at the higher level. Outfield is still a passion, but he knows that those days are behind him unless they create a “designated-fielder” position.
OaklandClubhouse: You got called up from Stockton a few weeks ago. What has it been like here in Sacramento?
Marcus McBeth: Tough. This is a totally different league here with better hitters. You can’t make as many mistakes because they will capitalize on them, but it’s a learning experience. I’ve been learning from the older guys, some of them have been teaching me the ropes.
OC: What’s been the biggest adjustment?
MM: Not being able to get away with mistakes, throwing fastballs in fastball counts, etc. It’s ok to do that, but you have to locate and I haven’t been able to locate.
OC: In talking to some of the pitchers in Stockton they noted that your changeup is difficult to hit. With your fastball/changeup combination how do you mix pitches a little bit better at this level?
MM: If one or the other is off, (hitters) will sit on the one that you’ve been able to throw for strikes. I’ve developed a little slider that I can use to throw for strikes to give hitters another look. Hopefully it will give hitters something else to worry about.
OC: How’s the development of the slider gone?
MM: Pretty good. I’ve used it a little bit. It’s been semi-effective, but I’ve got to get it to the level of consistency that I need it to be at. At this level you have to be consistent every day.
OC: The major league club’s bullpen is in a bit of disarray due to injuries, etc. Any hope that you might be one of the next call-ups?
MM: I’m still young, still wet behind the ears. We’ve got guys here who are much more experienced and much more polished than I am. Just learning from these guys, it’s been an honor to be here in this clubhouse with a lot of players with major league time. It’s a great learning experience.
OC: Is outfield still in your heart?
MM: I love the outfield, having been drafted as a center fielder. I just couldn’t do it with the bat. If I could go out and play outfield and not have to hit it would be one thing, but you can’t do that.
It’s definitely still in my heart and something I love to do, but we’ve got Charles Thomas here in center field, so what are we really losing? After watching him run balls down here, I don’t know. That guy is really good. There are a lot of outfielders throughout the organization that are really good, it’s been amazing. I’ve played with them at all levels and to see how much outfield talent there is throughout the organization is amazing.
OC: Did pitching in the Arizona Fall League prepare you for pitching at a higher level?
MM: I would have to say so because every day there you were facing All Star prospects from each organization. The funny thing is when I first came up, we played with the Diamondbacks’ prospects so a lot of the Tucson players were on my team. To face [Stephen Drew] as an opponent now [Drew is currently with the Tucson Sidewinders of the PCL] when he was a teammate there was kind of weird.
OC: Does having an outfield background help you defensively on the mound?
MM: Not really just because the ball comes so much faster. Infield is something I’ll leave to the guys with the quick, smooth hands. I need the ball to be in the air to be able to track it. On the mound you only have a split-second to react. It’s all reflexes.