UNB coach signs one-year deal with Toronto Blue Jays farm team
By Jeremy Trevors
Kevin McCarthy is getting his shot with the Toronto Blue Jays.
McCarthy, who coached at the University of New Brunswick for the last six years and coached the New Brunswick Selects 17 U team in the past, signed a one-year contract as the Player Development Technology Assistant with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the AA team in the Blue Jays farm system.
McCarthy will leave on March 4 and fly to minor league spring training in Florida before making his way to New Hampshire until the season is over in late September, October depending on how the season goes. He will be responsible for working with both pitchers and roster players by ensuring they have their mechanics down pat.
“If a player is struggling I’m going to be looking into what’s been different or why they are struggling,” McCarthy said. “Is it something they are doing? Is it something the opposing pitcher is doing?”
Once McCarthy and the player figure out why they may be struggling or in a slump, then it’s a matter of making adjustments or go back to doing what made them successful in the beginning and allow the players to feel their way to something comfortable.
The job has been something that’s been brewing for a while.
McCarthy had an interview with the Blue Jays in the spring of 2021 and felt the interview had gone well. But, with the minor league lockout in 2020, there were no new hires in 2021. McCarthy touched base again with the Jays organization in September and didn’t really hear anything back from the organization with the exception of a few conversations here and there that focused around player development.
“It was mostly around how to use data and coaching and how to bridge the two,” McCarthy said, who ended up being offered the position in early January. “I’ll be responsible for giving the coaches the information and the data they need, explain it really clearly and then teach it to the players. It’s all about filtering the stuff that’s meaningful.”
McCarthy, who is no stranger to using analytics with the UNB baseball team, along with head coach Mark MacNevin, said it has paid off, most importantly with player development.
“I think the data-driven approach we have been taking at UNB has been really working,” McCarthy said. “The success we’ve had over the last few years and trying to make every player better has been the strength of our program and I think that’s what you want to do at the higher levels. You really want to get the best out of everybody and that’s important for everyone.”
McCarthy, who was born in Campbellton and moved to Fredericton when he was about 10 years old, has played baseball for nearly his entire life and has always wanted to become involved with coaching in some capacity.
His wife, Danica and two children will go to visit him in New Hampshire throughout the summer. McCarthy will travel on the road with the team as well. McCarthy will also be able to return to Fredericton a few times this summer, he’s also hoping to suit up for a few games with the Fredericton Jack’s Pizza Expos of the Capital City Intermediate Baseball League, where he’s played for the last several years, winning a provincial championship in 2015 and 2017.
“New Hampshire is a lot closer than Florida, and her parents and my parents are both here in Fredericton so that should help,” McCarthy said. “Danica is on maternity leave right now, so we are just going to play it one year at a time.”
McCarthy said this type of work was always something that he’s been interested in. Both in hockey and baseball. Both sports, mostly baseball, have been using analytics for player development for the better part of the last decade.
In 2017, McCarthy decided to go back to school and enrolled at UNB and ended up getting a job with ICEBERG Sports Analytics, where he was looking after minor and pro teams including the Oshawa Generals and the Ottawa 67 of the Ontario Hockey League, Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League and Red Bull Salzburg in the ICE Hockey League the latter who made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018, losing to Red Bull Munich 3-1 on aggregate. He also did some game reports with Team Russia at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships and Team Canada at the U17 and U18 World Hockey Championships.
“It’s really interesting to get to talk to all of these people and learn from them,” McCarthy said. “This meshes with what I’ve been doing with UNB Baseball for a while and it’s really something I want to go career wise. This opportunity with the Blue Jays will be really good for me.”
McCarthy hopes that one day he could end up with a professional sports team in some capacity, whether it be at the National Hockey League, or Major League Baseball level. It will all depend on how the season will go, but McCarthy is confident that things will work out.He sees himself being in the minor league system for a bit, before hopefully making the jump.
“I really like making people better and getting them to the majors would be something that is pretty cool for me. I can see myself doing that for a while or moving to a more of a front office role, whether it be scouting, coaching or a bit of both,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy still plans on helping out with the UNB Baseball Club this fall if the opportunity is there.
UNB has won the last three league championships and made it to the national championship finals in 2019, losing to McGill.
“It will be tough but I want to come back in September and help out. I think it’s possible, it just depends on what the Jays and I discuss at the end of the minor league season,” McCarthy said. “It overlaps by a few weeks, but there’s still six weeks left of the UNB season, but there’s camps going on for minor league teams, there’s winter baseball, so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”