ASTROS FLASHBACK, June 2019: Outfielder Chas McCormick-Wall Flips, Shoulder Chips, And All That Chas
"There's less room for error for guys like me." Maybe so, but the Astros wish they had many more "guys like him." Maybe they already do.
He gave the ‘Stros the margin of victory in Game 3 of the 2022 ALCS against the Yankees in New York. Chas McCormick’s 2-run homer (shown above📸MLB.com) spotted Houston all they’d need to take a commanding 3-game lead in the best-of-seven series with a 5-zip win on October 22, 2022.
Smart money’s on Chas coming nowhere close to calling his 2-out, 2nd-inning dinger to right. But, I’m willing to bet the 27-year-old wasn’t surprised when it finally cleared the wall!
The Wayback Machine is set to nearly 3 1/2 years ago, when McCormick was wondering when his minor league trek would end, and he’d finally bust through to The Show for the Minute Maid Nine. His landing in Houston happened April 1, 2021.
Portions of this article appeared in The Runner Sports, June 13, 2019.
I can put the ball in play whenever I want.
“For me, making contact is easy.” Such bold self-confidence in a ballplayer is rare these days, with most pros opting to, at least, sound modest and self-effacing. But, Houston Astros centerfielder, Chas McCormick, is confident, but far from cocky.
“I can put the ball in play whenever I want.” Sure sounds cocky. But, two things convince Chas fans he’s not decidedly arrogant. His genial, “aw-shucks” personality, and his play in the field. Plus, you’ve just gotta love a guy whose pre-game meal is a PB&J sandwich, and whose Twitter handle is @Chazzyfizz!
Besides earning the organizational step-up by his play, McCormick’s promotion serves to fill the Round Rock Express roster spot vacated by baseball’s hottest new rookie, Yordan Alvarez, who was promoted to Houston, June 9, 2019.
The six-foot, 208-pound McCormick is smart enough to realize he’s got no one’s shoes to fill, but is simply progressing apace toward his goal of reaching Houston and their currently crowded outfield. That should happen next season, if only for a September peek.
McCormick, born in 1995 in West Chester (one of four brothers, one an identical twin, Jason), less than an hour outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, excelled at both baseball and basketball for the Warriors at West Chester’s Henderson High School, amassing a career total of 1,000 points on the hardwood while pitching lefty and hitting on the diamond.
Among their many august graduates, Henderson also produced southpaw Jon Matlack, the three-time National League All-Star who pitched for the New York Mets and Texas Rangers in his 13-year career. Matlack, just before retiring, spent the 2012 season as the Astros’ minor league pitching coordinator.
Four all-conference nods with the diamond Warriors led the then- 5’11”, 175-pound McCormick to the Division II Millersville University.
Right away, McCormick displayed his high-contact ability with the Marauders, logging a .335/.413/.419 slash line with nine steals, and only 18 strikeouts in 236 plate appearances.
As a sophomore, and growing into his body a bit more, McCormick began driving the ball more noticeably, collecting six home runs, and continued to put the ball in play in over 90 percent of his trips to the plate.
A Slap in the Pace
It was his junior year that McCormick noticed some interest coming his way from MLB teams. A slash line of .412/.488/.525 with 33 stolen bases better get some interest from scouts.
McCormick recalled his junior year to The Crawfish Boxes: “I played really well down the stretch and we went to the World Series, we won a regional championship. I think scouts saw me perform. After that year I got a call from the Astros; they said ‘we’ll draft you in the 25th round’… and they never did.”
A lesser man –a less confident man– might have felt defeated and let his performance flag the following year. Not Chas:
“That’s where I was like, okay, at least they have interest. As long as I stay focused my senior year, I think I should get drafted as a senior sign, and that’s exactly what happened,” McCormick recalled, failing miserably in hiding that infectious grin.
McCormick, a right-handed batter, made more believers his senior year at Millersville, hitting .384 while nabbing another 23 steals in 25 attempts and whacking a career-high nine homers. A full year after his 2016 draft day disappointment, the Astros selected McCormick in the 21st round in 2017. It’s said he was not on any other team’s draft board.
I think he has a chip on his shoulder.
“He’s a super competitive kid, and I think he has a chip on his shoulder. He was one of the best players at the D-II level, and I think he wants to prove to other teams that he was overlooked coming out of college.”
Self-aware almost to a fault, McCormick is philosophical when realizing he’s not a sexy, round-one star coveted by 30 teams: “I think you have to play with a sense of urgency, because you don’t have all the time in the world to be sitting in A-ball, or on the IL, so personally, I’m making sure I stay healthy every year so I can play every single day, and play my butt off.
“There’s less room for error for guys like me.”
Creating a Little More Room For Error
In 2017, McCormick batted .298 through three levels in his first pro season, reaching Advanced-A Buies Creek by year’s end. In 2018, he spent the back half of the season with Corpus Christi, batting .280 with a .344 on-base percentage.
In 2019, he closed his AA Hooks campaign with a .277 average, and nine of 12 steals, with a Texas League-leading .426 on-base percentage through 53 games. He played all outfield positions, but mostly right.
His 39 walks to only 28 Ks speaks… and does so loudly… to his high contact rate, should there still be any skeptics.
And, Then There’s That Wall Thing…
Picture it: Tulsa, sometime in early 2019, a ball… a wall. So the ball wouldn’t clear the wall, somebody had to go up and get it. And, a social media sensation (and a SportsCenter Top 10 clip) was born:
In speaking to Spencer Morris of The Crawfish Boxes in early May, Chas relayed this update on his progress through Houston’s system: “I’m a good two-strike hitter, too, so I’m getting in deeper counts, which is helping me a lot. [I’m not] so focused on just putting the ball in play.”
Digging a little more, McCormick continued: “[Houston’s minor league coaches] actually told me to swing and miss more. And that’s tough for me, because usually if I’m swinging, I’m going to make contact.”
There he goes again!
Behind the Astros Dugout is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.