For a prolific hitter that started at least 35 games in each of his four seasons at West Virginia University, working through the progression of the minor leagues may not have been ideal. But for Ryan McBroom, “process” is all he’s known. Now, McBroom is looking at his second season in the minor leagues after a successful first go-around.
Baseball is one of those sports where you’re still allowed to skip college and head straight for the pros. McBroom thought about that route but instead chose to take the next step in the process and went to WVU, where he learned about the game and about himself.
“Playing four years at WVU matured me both on and off the field. It taught me how to deal with adversity and what it takes to be successful,” McBroom told WVUPros in a recent interview. “I wasn’t ready to go out of high school so WVU was sort of a stepping stone between levels.”
McBroom saw action rather quickly, starting 35 of WVU’s 45 games his freshman season. He hit .246 that season with five doubles and three home runs while driving in 24. In the process, he tallied a .354 slugging percent and a .306 on-base percentage. His numbers did nothing but rise for three seasons after that.
His junior season saw him hit .268 with a career-high 19 doubles and career-best 12 home runs while WVU made a run in the Big 12 tournament. McBroom earned the nickname “McBoom” and many thought he would test the waters in the MLB. He was drafted in the 36th round at 1,074th overall by the Kansas City Royals. But there was still work to do.
“The opportunity at making a run at a playoff chance here at WVU and to sharpen up my game so I would be ready to hit the ground running in pro ball,” McBroom said of why he chose to come back.
It paid off for the first baseman.
While he didn’t hit as many doubles or home runs during his senior season, his overall game improved greatly. He hit a career-best .341 with 12 doubles and eight home runs, recording a career-high 49 RBIs in 54 games while posting a .512 slugging percent and a .404 OBP.
That was good enough to draw the attention of the Toronto Blue Jays, which took him in the 15th round.
“It was both an honor and a relief,” McBroom said of being drafted. “The draft can be extremely stressful. Those entire few days I was on edge. I was at my sister’s high school graduation when they called so that helped get my mind off things for a short period. I was honored to be chosen by Toronto and look forward to getting to work this year.”
McBroom was part of a historic draft class for the Mountaineers. WVU put a record-tying six players in the draft. That, he said, was a goal for the team.
“It was pretty cool to see your best friends’ names get called too,” he said. “It as something special and something we all worked on throughout the year.”
Upon being drafted, McBroom parted ways with his teammates and headed to Vancouver, where he would play with the Vancouver Canadians, the Blue Jays’ Short A affiliate. While there, he hit .297 over 70 games with 23 doubles, 11 home runs and 59 RBIs. He led the team in home runs, tied for the team lead in doubles and finished second on the team in RBIs. His .502 slugging percentage was best on the team, also. His 11 long balls also tied the league lead.
McBroom said his consistent season was exactly what the franchise was looking for out of him.
“That’s the main goal: staying consistent,” he said. “They are investing time in me and giving me an opportunity to be successful, so it’s up to me to follow through with the plan.”
For a guy who has always stuck with the plan and followed the process, starting from the bottom and working his way through the system is a challenge that he welcomes with open arms.
“I enjoy starting low and working my way up even if it’s not a guarantee,” he said. “It pushes me harder and polishes my game while doing so.”
Making the transition from playing a few games a week to playing everyday took some time for the power hitter to get used to. Going to Vancouver was a welcomed move and learning the ropes in a new city was a fun experience, he said.
“Playing every single day was a grind and something I wasn’t used to. The mental adjustment was tough, but I eventually figured it out,” he explained. “It was an easy adjustment because I had played all four years of college and I was ready for that next step if I was given the opportunity. And fortunately I was.”
McBroom added that playing in Vancouver was a great experience since the city loved the team so much.
“It was unbelievable living and playing up there in Vancouver,” he said. “We were treated like a big league club since we were the only team in the city.”
McBroom isn’t sure where he’ll be placed this season. He could be back on Vancouver’s squad or he could be promoted to a higher class. That, he said, depends on how he performs when spring training rolls around.
Either way, he’s biding his time and working through the continual process in hopes of reaching his ultimate goal: the big leagues.