McDade Rounding Into Form

McDade hit his first home run on Friday

Manchester, NH - If it's just batting practice in the cages or in front of thousands of fans, Mike McDade is a focused hitter. In his first year as a New Hampshire Fisher Cat, the first baseman is already proving that he's ready for bigger things. [FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT]

FutureJays.com, a subscription web site covering the Toronto Blue Jays farm system, will officially launch on Monday. With beat writers in place at all of the minor league affiliates and in preparation of the launch, we are releasing this 'free preview' of the premium content FutureJays.com subscribers will enjoy going forward.

Michael McDade, a big power hitter, currently leads the Fisher Cats with .327 average. This should come as no surprise as McDade announced himself to the baseball world during his latest stint in the Arizona Fall League in which he finished with a .375 average, good for third in the league. He also led the Florida League in home runs last year, hitting 21.

The recent success of McDade comes as no surprise to his hitting coach, Justin Mashore, who has been McDade's hitting coach for his four years in the minors. Mashore has seen McDade evolve from a kid out of high school to a professional athlete.

"The biggest improvement for him his been his maturity and focus," Mashore said. "Those things are obviously key to anyone. I think when you come out of high school you don't know the amount of focus you need to succeed but so far he's done a good job."

For McDade, his focus on life changed three years ago, after the passing of his father.

"The most pressure was after his dad passed away and he really felt like he had to prove something," Mashore added. "Now he's gotten past that and the pressure is put on everyone else, because he's really comfortable being who he is."

Once known as more of a pure slugger than hitter, McDade's newfound comfort level in the batter's box is an attribute to his evolution as a baseball player; something he worked on during spring training.

"Keeping my approach the same and waiting for that one pitch has been the biggest thing I've worked on," McDade said. "If I do miss it, I just have to battle, but really it's just seeing it and putting a good bat on it."

McDade had to wait longer than most people expected to really show his power and get the pitch he was waiting for. It took him 14 games and 38 at-bats to hit his first home run of the season. He wasn't distracted about his lack of power though.

"I've been hitting the ball and driving it pretty well all season so I wasn't worried," McDade said after hitting his first home run of the season on Friday. "I was just able to get under the ball and put it into the air."

Seeing the pitch has been more troublesome for McDade in the Eastern League, where the pitching is much stiffer than the Florida League.

"They use both sides of the plate and have much better control," McDade said about the pitcher's he's faced so far. "They have a much better third and fourth pitch, and they actually use them."

It's clear that mentally McDade is locked in right now, which has been momentous in his rise as a player, despite the improved competition.

"I've been staying within myself," he said. "I was swinging at everything before, but now I just sit in the box and look for that one pitch."

McDade has the natural talent and the mechanics to be a household name someday according to his hitting coach.

"I think he'll go as far baseball will let him go," Mashore said. "I think he's capable of being an all-star, gold glove first baseman. With baseball, you really can't control your future but as far as his talent goes, the sky is the limit."

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