Looking for Kevin Mahoney in this year’s Trenton Thunder media guide? Give up. He isn’t in there.
Now, wait a second, wait a second…don’t write those nasty e-mails to Bill Cook or Justin Shackil just yet. There’s a good explanation for that. Nobody thought the 2009 Yankees draft pick would be here…not even Mahoney himself.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” who was picked by Yankees 705th overall out of Canisius College in the 23rd round.
“Even when I spent spring training in Double-A, that was pretty shocking to myself. But I was really excited when I got the call from Eric Schmitt. I had been moving around a little bit. I went to Tampa, and then I went to extended. When he called me again, I figured I was going to go back to Tampa or something like that. When he said, “We’re going to send you to Trenton,” I was like, ‘Uh…OK! When do I leave?’ I was really excited.”
That’s all well and good, of course, but the reality of the situation — for the time being, anyway — is that Mahoney is an extra body who is going to be lightly used and will likely be sent back down once David Adams recovers from his sprained ankle. None of this is news to Mahoney.
“I mean, I can’t really expect to play in Double-A when I’ve never even played with these guys before,” he said.
“I spent my first year in rookie ball, and you can’t expect to play over guys who’ve been in Double-A for a year or two years who’ve went through the ladder step-by-step. I understand why I’m here, and I’m more than happy to be here.”
The list of players who’ve filled Mahoney’s role is a long one. Some either have made it back up or are on the path to getting back here, like Walter Ibarra, who was with the club for a while in 2008. Others, like Russell Raley, never were able climb that ladder again. However, when asked to describe himself as a player, it seems the fresh-faced 23-year-old has an edge to his game that could benefit him down the road.
“To sum it all up, I guess I could say I’m scrappy,” Mahoney told me.
“I’ll get my hits, but I guess the best part of my game is my defense. I know the Yankees know that. Last year, the low offensive numbers were very unlike myself. But this year, it’s been a lot different hitting wise, but still, defense is my thing. It’s what I do.”
Mahoney played third base at Canisius, but currently profiles as a utility guy in the Yankees minor league system, and hopes to be a “Kevin Russo-type player” one day, as he hopes to learn to play the outfield sometime down the road.
But, for as long as he’s in the infield, Mahoney has been able to learn from the various coaches he’s been able to play for in his two seasons in the Yankees system. Being in Trenton has given him a chance to be under the tutelage of Jody Reed, a long-time Major League infielder who now serves as the Yankees minor league infield coordinator and has been at Waterfront Park recently.
“I’m fortunate that Jody’s up here,” Mahoney said.
“I’ll pick coaches brains, and I like to pick Jody’s brain a lot. Him and I are a little alike. He’s a smaller guy, but he was able to play ten years in the big leagues. He hit the ball, but he played defense. I’m the same type of player, so I like to pick his brain. Frank (Menechino), too. Frank and I always have good conversations, he was another scrappy guy who made it to the big leagues.”
Being one of the more inexperienced guys on the team, Mahoney’s trying to pick up bits and pieces from everyone, and that includes his teammates.
“On the bench, I’ll try to watch what guys do and try to incorporate that into what I do,” he said.
“I’ll see Brandon Laird going nuts (the other day) with the cycle, and I try to see what he does differently than what I do, and I try to incorporate that. It’s a learning process, I want to learn quicker than most other guys would.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com