Just days after Garrett Hampson became the 50th Long Beach State Dirtbag to reach Major League Baseball, Jeff McNeil made it three LBSU product call-ups last month when he joined the New York Mets.
Dirtbags product Drew Gagnon joined the Mets on July 10. McNeil is the 12th Dirtbag to play in the MLB this season, and LBSU has had more former players in the league than any other college or university since 2010.
McNeil, 26, delivered his first MLB hit on the first pitch he saw as a pinch-hitter. It was a clean single to center field in the eighth inning of a 6-4 win over visiting San Diego.
“It’s unbelievable,” McNeil told the Associated Press at his locker after his debut. “It’s something I’ve always dreamed of. To get a hit, it couldn’t have happened any better. I’m really happy.”
McNeil played second base, shortstop, third base, and left field in the minors this year. He has also played right field, center field and first base since playing second base for three years at LBSU. With the Mets, McNeil has played 12 of his 17 games at second base.
“He has proven himself at every level and has displayed his versatility throughout his Dirtbag and his professional career,” Dirtbags coach Troy Buckley said. “This promotion is well-deserved and we are very proud of him.”
McNeil was on the 2011 Dirtbags team that included pros Gagnon, Matt Duffy, Mike Marjama and Branden Pinder. He hit .348 as a junior and was named First Team All-Big West. He also had 16 doubles, a .398 OBP and 13 stolen bases.
After he was picked in the 12th Round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Mets, McNeil has been on 10 different teams in six minor league seasons with New York. He has a career .311 batting average with 714 total bases in 426 games. McNeil was most recently with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, where he hit .368 with a .427 on-base percentage, and this year he has compiled 72 runs, 26 doubles, 19 home runs, 71 RBIs and six stolen bases in 88 games.
“I was definitely anticipating it,” McNeil said. “I’ve had a pretty good year, and I’m swinging the bat well. I knew if I kept putting together good at bats I’d eventually get the call.”
McNeil had a .500 on base percentage in his first six games, and is currently hitting .255 with a pair of home runs. Last week, he had three hits in a win over the Cincinnati Reds, and one of them was a homer into the upper deck that traveled nearly 400 feet.
“On the home run, they started to shift me a little over on the second-base side,” McNeil told the Associated Press after the game. “I was just trying to hit a ball to left field. Fortunately, he threw me a changeup so I was early on it and I just got barrel to it. I’m definitely getting a lot more confident up there.”
In The Minors
LBSU alum Brennen Metzger was an internet sensation last week after he had a comical run-in with a minor league umpire. Metzger, who is currently with the Double-A Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, took exception to a strike-three call from the ump. During the resulting argument and ejection, Metzger grabbed a trash can from the dugout and stomped to the batter’s box where he put the can behind the plate.
“Go to your home,” Metzger yelled at the umpire.
The video of the incident, which includes some colorful language, was shared by multiple national media outlets all over Twitter and Facebook.
Baseball Players™ on Twitter
He got ejected, put the trash can at the plate, and told the ump to go to his home 😂 https://t.co/h9PH492g0K
Wilson High alum Chris Betts is back from arm surgery and performing well for the Hudson Valley Renegades as part of the Tampa Bay Rays system. Betts, 21, is one of five Renegades selected to play in the New York-Penn League’s All-Star Game tonight. Betts leads his team with eight home runs this season. The catcher is also hitting .275 with 32 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 41 games.
LBSU product Clayton Andrews is less than three months removed from pitching for the Dirtbags, but the left-hander has been phenomenal for the Class A Timber Rattlers bullpen. After getting drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in June, Andrews has a 1.84 ERA and 0.55 WHIP in eight appearances this season. He has allowed just one earned run over his last 10.2 innings pitched. During that stretch, Andrews has given up only two hits and a walk with 20 strikeouts.
*Statistics through Sunday, Aug. 12