Saltdogs Cameron McVey Speaks Softly, Carries a Big Arm
In his third season in the American Association, Lincoln Saltdogs right-hander Cameron McVey has clearly found a home, becoming a huge piece in the success the team had in winning the Central Division. He is truly a soft-spoken man off the field, but he is saying a whole lot with his powerful arm.
Introducing Cameron McVey
Teddy Roosevelt is one of the most respected presidents in American History. He was so revered that he is one of the four men that find themselves enshrined on Mount Rushmore.
Roosevelt accomplished a great deal during his time in office, but he is best remembered for a speech related to his style of diplomacy where he declared, “I speak softly, but carry a big stick.” According to the former president, this was “the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis.”
The idea here was to take action before a crisis arose. That if you had a plan and you implemented that plan to perfection, that you would come out on top in every circumstance.
This season, Lincoln Saltdogs Manager Bobby Brown developed a plan that would have made Roosevelt proud. The plan was to put together a pitching staff that shut opponents down, and a defense that made finding a gap or a hole as troublesome as finding a man sun tanning in Antarctica.
That plan has been implemented quite well this season, thanks to the incredible job that right-hander Cameron McVey has done coming out of the Lincoln Saltdogs bullpen. He has carried a big arm to the mound each time his name has been called, but has done so in quite anonymity.
Inspired to Play Ball!
From as early as he can remember, Cameron McVey has been playing baseball. His dad was a coach and a lover of the game, and it seemed only natural that he would love the sport himself.
“My dad’s the biggest influence for baseball for me. He coached me since I was little, like the whole time. So seeing him coach me and him loving baseball made me play baseball and actually love the sport.”
To Cameron, baseball was a time for fun. While friends were dreaming about playing in the Major Leagues one day, the right-hander was not concerned with that at all. He simply wanted to enjoy playing a kid’s game.
“I never thought about the professional level. I didn’t even know what the draft was, even through high school, I didn’t really understand it. I was just playing for fun. That is what baseball is to me.”
After graduating from High School, Cameron went on to Mt. San Antonio College (CA), where he played baseball his two seasons there. However, it was not as a pitcher. He was a position player, but one day realized that he was making a big mistake.
“I was an outfielder in college and I wanted to try out as a pitcher. I saw the hitters hit off the tee every day, run the bases every day, and I looked at the pitchers in the outfield and they played catch for about 10 minutes, ran and then went home while we were hitting the whole entire day. I was like, you know this is kind of hard, so I might as well learn how to pitch so I can do what they’re doing. I asked a coach in college and he said no, but I was like, Hey this is really something I want to do,” and he gave me one inning that year,” Cameron explains with a laugh.
Soaring Like an Eagle
After two years at Mt. San Antonio College, Cameron McVery transferred to Biola University. He may have only had a single inning pitched at his former school, but the Eagles had every intention of making him a pitcher. The move proved to be brilliant.
In his junior season, Cameron went 2-3 with 14-saves. He led the team with a 2.53 ERA and allowed 21-hits in 32-innings pitched. He also struck out 39. That led to him being named as the Closer of the Year in the conference.
While he may not have thought about playing professional baseball before, when a player puts up statistics like that it is going to garner some attention, and in 2012, the San Francisco Giants made him their 22nd round selection. It was an incredible and exciting experience for the right-hander.
“It was fun. It was something different that was for sure. They say your name on the radio or wherever it’s broadcasted and you hear your name. My friends were all calling me at the same time. My phone like froze because everybody was calling me and messaging me at the same time. So I shut my phone off. It was pretty cool.”
Taking a Giant Step Forward
In 2012, Cameron McVery was assigned to the Giants rookie league team in Arizona. He appeared in 12-games there, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
A season later, he moved to Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League. He had a solid season in year two, going 3-2 with a save and a 3.19 ERA in 42.1-innings pitched. The season before he had walked 7 in 10-innings of work but, in 2013, Cameron walked just 14 in 42-innings pitched while striking out 48.
His career looked bright, but 2014 did not progress as he had wished. The reliever would go 1-2 with a save, but his ERA increased to 5.89. He appeared in 27.2-innings and at the end of the season he was granted his unconditional release.
Soaring Like a Canary
It was a surprising turn of events, but Cameron McVey knew that he had what it took to be a successful professional baseball player. Most importantly, he was still having fun, and as long as he was he wanted to continue his professional career.
In 2015, the right-hander joined the Sioux Falls Canaries in the American Association. He became a huge plus for their bullpen, posting a 2-2 record and a 2.81 ERA in 41.2-innings pitched. He also saved two games and struck out 44 batters.
After a year in Sioux Falls, Cameron moved to the Winnipeg Goldeyes where he would help his new team win the American Association championship. In 39-games, the reliever posted a 2-2 record and a 3.41 ERA.
Seasoning His Game with Salt
After a season in Winnipeg, Cameron McVey was traded from the Goldeyes to the Lincoln Saltdogs. Manager Bobby Brown was looking to shore up his relief corps, and Cameron looked like he would be the perfect addition. That proved to be the case and more.
Entering the American Association playoffs, the Saltdogs reliever sported a 1.62 ERA in 33.1-innings pitched. He allowed 30-hits while striking out 48 and he added 3-saves. It was a stellar season that made the right-hander the primary setup man for the team. With numbers like that, many pitchers would be demanding a more prominent role but, for Cameron, that simply is not his style.
“I want to be the guy who goes out and does the job and that’s it. He’s out there – one, two, three – and he’s done. I just want the manager to know that when he calls me that he remembers that I’m the guy who got the job done.”
Not Looking for the Limelight
It is not surprising that Cameron McVey is not looking for the attention. To be honest, he is a guy of few words, who almost seems embarrassed by any attention he receives.
Instead, he is playing baseball because it is fun. He loves knowing his manager is calling on him to get outs, and cherishes his opportunities to overpower an opposing batter.
“I like trying to get as many strikeouts as I can. Like when I strike someone out that’s like what I want to do. That’s the most exciting thing for me, when I strike someone out with a good pitch and they know it’s a good pitch.”
It is the enjoyment of the game that actually helps him to be a better reliever. Passion is important in many sports, but baseball is a thinking man’s game. Showing too much emotion is likely to lead to your undoing. For Cameron, his enjoyment of pitching makes it so that his emotions do not get the best of him.
“I’m just happy to be out there. I just love playing, so I don’t really show emotion or anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bad pitch, or someone hits a homerun, I’ll just get the next guy out. All you got to do is stay positive out there and that’s what I do.”
Facing the Realities Head On
Clearly, Cameron McVey gets how the mental side of the game is often more important than the physical tools that someone has. He gets that you may be doing everything right, you may be making the pitches you want that should be a complete lock to get a guy out. Yet, things may still not go your way. It’s a spot where he simply tips his cap and says better luck next time.
“There may be times when you have all your stuff, you’re throwing hard, you’re off-speed stuff is going for strikes, but you still get hit. You have your stuff and you know you’re doing well but they still hit it. That’s their job and you have to remember that you made your pitches.”
While the right-hander is not letting a bad outing overcome his joy for the game, he is not oblivious to how that outing can affect him long-term.
“Stats are what everybody sees. That’s where your kids grow up and they see your stats. I want my kids to look at my stats and see where I played, to see how well I did. I don’t want them to look at my stats and be like, ‘Hey why are your stats so bad?’ You can try to explain that you were making the right pitches, but that guys just hit it. I don’t think they will get that though.”
Thankful for the Opportunity
Cameron McVey may be a man who lets his arm do the talking, but he is happy to express his thankfulness to his family for helping him to make his baseball dream come true. The reality is that without them he doesn’t know what he would be doing.
“If it wasn’t for them I would not be playing. I don’t have enough money to do all there is, I don’t have a degree to go and do other stuff. So they help me out and I’m very thankful for that. They are big inspirations for me. That’s why I like playing – for them.”
It doesn’t take a lot of words and accolades to express how good Cameron McVey is. The right-hander has helped s hiteam to reach a place where they are just two games from the American Association championship series. It’s that kind of goal that every kid dreams of – to win a championship – and with pitchers like Cameron McVey the Lincoln Saltdogs have a good chance of reaching that goal. No doubt to reach that goal, his arm will have a whole lot to say about that.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA