The Charleston RiverDogs are in in first place and the timing couldn’t be better for outfielder Matt McPhearson.
After five years in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system, the organization parted ways on March 31 with their fourth round pick from the 2013 draft.
Less than 24 hours later, McPhearson landed a job with the New York Yankees and was assigned to the Charleston RiverDogs, the franchise’s low-level Class A affiliate.
“For me, I’m just taking it a day a time and trying not to get too comfortable,” said McPhearson, a Baltimore native. “You want to stay on your toes.”
The 23-year-old has been a much-needed spar for the RiverDogs, who missed out on capturing a playoff seed when they placed fourth in the first half of the season.
But as they ready for a seven-game homestand that begins Wednesday, Charleston will waltz into Riley Park with the best second half record in the Class A South Atlantic League.
That’s largely due to the outfielder, who has helped the team reach a 9-4 record through their first 13 games. In that span, he batted .368 with five RBIs.
But getting on base is just one aspect of his game. Once he reaches safely, McPhearson has been a menace for opposing defenses. Known for his speed, he’s stolen five bases over his past 12 games and has scored just as many runs for the RiverDogs.
“Getting more consistent on the bases is really just part of my development as a player,” he said. “I’m learning new things every day, getting in quality time in the batting cage…I’m just in a good place right now.”
While his game is improving, McPhearson said his personal accomplishments take a backseat to the team’s success.
His goal is to help Charleston put wins in the standings. And it starts with the culture in the dugout.
“We’re just going out there and having fun,” the 23-year-old said. “When someone makes a mistake, we pick him up and support him. That’s what it’s all about.”
As minor league ball tends to go, this season’s team has a different cast of players from last year’s and the year before that.
But the 2016 and 2017 squads have one thing in common: they both rallied in the second half of the season to secure a playoff nod.
RiverDogs are looking to carry on tradition by extending their hot streak at The Joe beginning Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.