LAKELAND, Fla—The Detroit Tigers were close to missing out on a prospect that could have chosen football.
Jeff McVaney, an outfielder who as been playing with Detroit’s advance A Lakeland Flying Tigers squad for the past two seasons, played football in high school where he rushed for over 2,000 yards in a three-year-career.
McVaney was offered scholarships from various schools including: Texas State, Army, Harvard, Kansas, Oklahoma, Stanford, and most notably TCU, which had big interest in the six-foot-two running back.
“Baseball was also a big sport for me, but growing up I always wanted to be a football player,” said McVaney on a beautiful morning in front of the players club house at the Tiger Town training facility in Lakeland. “I played football in college as well as baseball, but then I got to the point where I realized baseball is where I would probably have more of a future and I pursued that, and now I’m here.”
McVaney, 24, has played in 259 games with the Flying Tigers and has 254 hits, 124 RBIs, and a batting average of .263.
Although baseball is what he picked, McVaney also played football for two seasons at Texas State but decided in his sophomore year that baseball was the right fit for him.
“I was kind of getting beat up a little bit in football so I decided I would take it easy on my body and play baseball because I think that’s what I have a brighter future in,” McVaney said. “So I just focused on that and played baseball for the last few years at school.”
When the Tigers came calling for McVaney he was selected in the eighth round of the 2012 draft, but during his college and high school playing days McVaney was also a left-hand pitcher. The lefty had 23 appearances, 10 of which he made without allowing an earned run between April and May.
When asked why he choose the outfield over pitching, McVaney was persuaded to make the switch by the Tigers.
“I still work on pitches every now and then,” said McVaney. “Just in case they need to call me in when we’re beating the opponent and they don’t want to wast a pitcher, I’m always ready for that.”
Follow Tyler Bitton @TBitton8