By John Bohnenkamp
Trevor McGee has a plan for his pitching career.
His college career is over, so the Burlington Bees left-hander is in the Prospect League hoping someone notices him.
Maybe an independent professional league. Or maybe a Major League Baseball scout.
It’s why, after talking to Bees manager Owen Oreskovich, McGee made a two-day drive from Pennsylvania for an opportunity to keep pitching.
“I was thinking to myself if you want to get looked at, you’re going to have to go where the eyes go,” McGee said. “I was hoping to find a high-level league to pitch in.”
McGee has made two strong starts for the Bees since arriving on June 17. He’s 1-0 with a 1.80 earned run average, with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings.
He has helped bolster a Bees starting rotation that has struggled at times this season. His veteran presence — he is one of three graduated seniors on the roster — has made a difference as well.
“He has helped some of our guys greatly in the bullpen, just talking about pitching,” Oreskovich said.
McGee, who is from Bensalem Township, Pa., was 1-6 with a 6.81 earned run average at Clarion (Pa.) University, an NCAA Division II school this season. McGee was looking for a summer league, and when the Bees had a roster opening and in need of pitching after a five-games-in-three-days stretch in the second week of the season, Oreskovich reached out to him.
“He said, ‘We’ve got a spot here if you want to throw,’” McGee said. “And I took it.”
McGee made his first start two days after his arrival, throwing six innings and striking out six in a 2-1 win over the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes. He allowed one run in four innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win at Clinton.
Nine of the Bees’ 14 pitchers were either college freshmen or sophomores this season. McGee and Garrett Moltzan, a senior at Texas Wesleyan, are the oldest pitchers on the staff.
“Those guys have been through it, they’ve seen it,” Oreskovich said. “You can see it when they pitch, too. They don’t really let any little thing affect them, like some guys might. They’re pitchers. They might not be guys that throw 95, 98, but they know how to pitch. They know how to get guys out. They can see things in swings. They’re pitchers. They’re really great to have there around young guys.”
McGee likes to be around his new teammates.
“You kind of see where their journey went, where they’re at,” he said. “The league was more mature here. Some of these leagues get into the entertainment side of it. I kind of wanted a league that was serious about baseball. They’re here, they’re grinding. They’re here with a goal and a mindset.”
McGee doesn’t have the obligations that come with younger pitchers. Some come to the summer leagues with either pitch counts or inning limits set by their college coaches.
“There’s a lot of things you don’t have to worry about anymore, being graduated,” he said. “I don’t have to really worry about it now. I’m kind of on my own terms here.
“It’s nice to not really have any more distractions. I’d like to develop further. Get bigger, stronger. Throw more accurate pitches, better spin rate, more efficient pitching.”
This is McGee’s third summer league season. He played in the Northwoods League in 2019, and played for Springfield in the Prospect League last season.
“I’ve been around a little bit,” he said, smiling.
Playing in a former minor-league ballpark for an organization that was once an MLB affiliate was something that appealed to McGee.
“The people here really love baseball,” he said. “They’re people who understand and respect baseball. The people here get involved, they talk to the players. It’s kind of cool knowing they’re really involved. Some of them have told me they’ve looked up my stats, things like that.
“It’s kind of a humbling experience a little bit, knowing a few years earlier, there was a pro athlete wearing this same uniform I’m wearing now. It’s a little bit surreal. But I’m glad I’m here.”
BY THE NUMBERS
• Spencer Nivens is on a six-game hitting streak. Nivens is hitting .269 in the streak with one home run and seven runs batted in.
• Trey Adams is also on a six-game hitting streak. Adams is hitting .381 in the streak.
• Ben Tallman was 0-for-25 to start the season. He’s 3-for-7 with two runs batted in and two runs scored in his last two games.
• Ryan Grace has hits in six of his last seven games. Grace, batting .360 for the season, is batting .478 in that stretch.
• Sam Monroe has a four-game hitting streak. Monroe is hitting .333 in the streak. Monroe leads the league with 23 walks.
THE WEEK AHEAD
• Monday, at Alton. The Bees take their four-game winning streak to play the River Dragons (13-10) for the first time this season.
• Wednesday-Thursday vs. Illinois Valley, Friday at Illinois Valley. After an off-day Tuesday, the Bees begin a three-game series against the Pistol Shrimp (15-8). Illinois Valley won the first two games against the Bees on June 14-15.
• Saturday-Sunday, vs. Clinton. The Bees, who have beaten the LumberKings twice this season, close the first half against them with two games at Community Field.
Photo: Bees pitcher Trevor McGee is one of three graduated seniors on the team. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)