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Ex-Ad McKenry a first-team All-American
Parents, Pharr, attitude about work listed as reasons for success

From good parents, top-notch high school coaching and a workaholic attitude comes the stuff of First-Team All-Americans.

That’s what Middle Tennessee State University head baseball coach Steve Peterson said about MTSU junior catcher Michael McKenry, former Farragut High School three-time All-state catcher, who was named First-Team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association earlier this week.

“From a coaching standpoint, what’s great about Michael is, is that’s he’s got great parents,” Peterson said of Cliff and Shelia McKenry while praising his catcher’s “appreciative” and “well-mannered” personality.

Peterson also praised FHS head coach Tommy Pharr for preparing McKenry for college baseball.

“He’s kinda like what my wife calls me, a workaholic,” Peterson said. “But it’s really a labor of love, Michael really loves to play baseball. ... he wants to be coached.”

The 198th overall pick in the recent Major League Baseball Amateur Draft — going in the seventh-round to Colorado — McKenry, 21, hit .390 this season for the 30-25 Blue Raiders with 13 homers, 68 RBIs and a .494 on-base percentage.

Signing with the Rockies organization, McKenry is currently with the Tri City Dust Devils of the Northwest League, a Class A Short-Season League in Pasco, Wash.

In his first pro game earlier this week, McKenry singled in four plate appearances.

“He’s an ambassador for this game, he represents Farragut and the city of Knoxville at the highest level,” Peterson said. “He’s a first-class person.”

A Third-Team All-American catcher as chosen by the Collegiate Baseball-Louisville Slugger and a First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference honoree, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound former Ad star also shined defensively behind the plate by throwing out 41 percent of baserunners attempting to steal.

Comparing McKenry defensively to former MTSU standout catcher and second-round selection Jayhawk Owens, “Michael at this same stage defensively, probably, is ahead of Jayhawk,” Peterson said.

An MTSU sports information official said McKenry is only the second-ever Blue Raider to earn First Team All-American honors.

McKenry had already built a stellar reputation as a sophomore, beginning 2006 on the Wallace Watch List for national Player of the Year honors, and was a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, another national Player of the Year award. That's in addition to consideration for the Coleman Company-Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the nation's top catcher.

Batting .169 his freshman season, McKenry hit .328 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs in 2005.

Playing behind a star catcher, “He didn’t get many opportunities his freshman year,” Peterson said.


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