Ryan McMahon and the rest of the Albuquerque Isotopes can look in the stands and pick out the scouts, distinctive with their briefcases, radar guns and perches behind home plate.
“They have that look,” said McMahon, who says it’s otherwise pragmatic to ignore their presence. “If you’re worried about that, it’s really hard to hit a 95 mph fastball.”
It’s harder for some than others, of course. Which makes it easier for scouts, in turn, to pick out the ballplayer.
McMahon, a 22-year-old second baseman for the ‘Topes and ascending Colorado Rockies prospect, is having an otherworldly season — a .390 batting average through 50 games following a 1-for-4 Sunday night, when the Isotopes lost 5-4 to Iowa before an announced Isotopes Park attendance of 8,353.
Meanwhile, today is trade deadline day, the last on which a trade can be made without first pushing a player through the waiver wire. Rare is the organization that won’t be impacted.
Big-league teams in contention for postseason spots usually look to add proven talent as pieces to push their run. Their trade partners usually ask for promising prospects. Noncontending teams may move salaried veterans and decide to look at younger players during the balance of the season.
The Rockies are among the former, reportedly added veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy from Texas on Sunday night. The initial word was that the Rockies would give up the dreaded player to be named later. But none of the Isotopes were pulled from their spots in the starting lineup to indicate their involvement.
In any case, McMahon is a player whose name seems to get more and more traction. He is the top prospect on the Isotopes’ roster, No. 3 in the system and 65th in baseball, per MLB.com. The lanky 6-foot-2, 185-pounder from Yorba Linda, Calif., has found his left-handed hitting stroke after struggling at times during the long, strange 2016 road trip in Double-A Hartford. Plus, he has made the transition to middle infielder for a Rockies organization that has a face of the franchise (Nolan Arenado) at third base.
McMahon said his success to this point isn’t “surprising, but I’d just say reflective of the work I’ve put in with the hitting coaches that the Rockies have, talking with my teammates and stuff, and being consistent with my day-to-day work.”
At least four scouts were on hand for Sunday’s Isotopes game, and it’s their busy season. One said aloud in the press box that he’s been home a grand total of five days since mid-May.
McMahon insists he doesn’t want to be bothered with the rumors and has told his representation as much. And just because he thinks it best to tune out on the scouts’ presence, that doesn’t mean he chooses to be oblivious to why they are around.
“You don’t really know what’s going on necessarily, but in the back of your mind you know that moves can happen. Anybody can be here one day and gone the next,” said McMahon before Sunday’s game.
“There’s a buzz. We’re just excited about the playoff push but definitely interested to see what can happen these last couple days.”