INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – While many minor League baseball players faced a challenge with the 2020 shutdown causing the loss of the season, Travis MacGregor found himself an even more unique situation.
MacGregor appeared in just 17 games in 2018, and missed the remainder after Tommy John surgery. The 2019 season was lost due to him healing from that surgery. When the 2020 campaign was canceled, it meant that MacGregor had lost nearly three full seasons of professional baseball.
Additionally, MacGregor had spent just 15 games in Low-A in 2018, before he was aggressively pushed to Double-A last season.
“That is definitely one of the tougher challenges I have had in professional baseball,“ MacGregor said. “That first year back, jumping from Low-A to Double-A, and coming off of Tommy John, there was a lot of unknown and really a lot of trials that I had to go through.”
While many people focus on the physical adjustment following surgery, MacGregor admitted that the mental strain was just as challenging.
“With my mental, it was trying to stay focused for the next one when things were piling up in all the bad categories,” MacGregor said. “I think being able to go through that, really made me feel comfortable this year. With my body, I had a lot of trust and confidence that it’s gonna be okay and I didn’t have to check my arm every time after each pitch and make sure it was good. That allowed me to free up a little bit and just try and pursue my career again.“
MacGregor got off to a strong start with Double-A Altoona, working in 15 games to a 3.60 ERA. In 45 innings, he allowed just 34 hits while striking out 60. Some of this he can attribute to some new tools in his arsenal.
“I kind of tweaked the slider a little bit this year,“ MacGregor said. “Dewey [Robinson] came in and we made it a little bit more of a sweeper. I found pretty good consistency with it, throwing it for strikes and keeping the contact numbers down. I also added in a cutter this year that’s really been a solid pitch for me. It helps me get back in the count when I need it. It’s a good off-balance pitch.”
While the success hasn’t been quite as strong in his 21 games with Indianapolis this season — a 7.25 ERA in 36 innings across 23 appearances — McGregor has overcome so much in his short career already. He also points to some strong positives that he was able to take away from the season.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good,“ MacGregor said. “I’ve been able to maintain the velocity, which is a good thing. I feel like I’ve been adjusting to how my pitches are working with a new baseball since I’ve come up from Double-A. I feel like I’m settling in.“
THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.