Trevor Megill is a 6’8 righty reliever hailing from the fertile baseball hotbed of our Southern California. Selected by the Padres in the seventh round of the 2015 Draft, Megill, having reached AAA El Paso for the first time this season, has a chance to be the seventh player from that draft to reach our big league roster. In a frank interview with Gaslamp Ball, he discussed his unconventional path to professional baseball, the pains of Tommy John surgery, and the finer points of his golf game.
You grew up in Huntington Beach from what I can tell?
Yeah, I did about ten years in Murietta, CA, then moved back to Orange County for HS baseball. I ended up attending Orange Lutheran for one year and Marina for two, then went to college early as a senior and played my freshman year at Loyola Marymount.
Important question for our readership—Did you grow up a Dodgers or Angels fan?
I’m definitely an Angels fan.
You must be pretty sad over this news about Tyler Skaggs, then?
100%. I have friends in that organization including my college teammate David Fletcher — I texted him yesterday, and a lot of people are saddened by this tragedy. There’s nothing fun about it.
Tough segue here, but being an Angels fan were there any players you looked up to growing up?
With the Angels, Garrett Anderson was always my favorite player. Then Bartolo Colon and Jared Weaver; Weaver was the one I tried modeling my mechanics after growing up. Outside of the Angels organization, my favorite pitcher hands down was Roger Clemens —just the way he went about his business on the mound, how fierce he was and the no-prisoners mentality he had. Just going out there and trying to demolish everybody is kind of what I’ve inspired myself to try and do.
I know you started in college, but does that Clemens attitude translate well to the bullpen?
Yeah, he and Richard Gossage, who would be my favorite reliever—I’ve read his book twice and watched all the videos I could find. Those two have a lot of similar qualities. I actually found myself watching video of Clemens’ 20-strikeout game the other night, because I’m in a bit of a slump and was looking for some inspiration to go off of. Watching Clemens throw 100 four-seam fastballs in a 20-strikeout game is about as good as it gets.
You ever considered going with a Gossage-style mustache?
I had a mustache when I was going well, so maybe I should bring it back.
Speaking of which, after dominating at the lower levels you’ve seen your ERA jump up a bit since moving to AAA—are you finding it tough to pitch in the PCL? I understand it can be a hellish place to pitch.
Well, the PCL being a hellish place to pitch in is a double-edged sword kind of thing: if you throw poorly you're gonna get punished, if you throw well you're gonna have success. For me, when I first got up I was throwing well, not walking people and getting outs. The last 4 outings I've been walking people and missing spots, so it’s easy for people to blame the league or the fields for their failures but that’s something I try to avoid as a pitcher — it’s on me to hit spots. These are pretty good hitters we are facing, and in the last 2.5 years I haven’t really faced much adversity or hitters of this caliber, so it’s taking time to adjust to get out there and do what I know I can do.
What are you finding to be the difference between AAA and lower-level hitters?
Pitch selection and pitch recognition, and they do their homework. I’m trying to study them before the game and they are studying me. After the first week or two of me pitching here, people got scouting reports and see the tendencies, and they're able to make out certain locations of pitches and counts and it makes it a lot harder as a pitcher for us to adjust. So, that’s the hardest part—being different every time out. But it really comes down to knowing your hitters and executing.
Who’s the toughest hitter you’ve faced with El Paso so far?
Lefties in general right now have been pretty tough. Chris Shaw—I ran into him again this homestand. When we first got drafted in ‘15 he hit a ball about 500 feet off of me in Salem, and he got another base hit off me this year, so he still has my number. And Connor Joe from OKC has also been a tough out.
Is there good camaraderie in the El Paso bullpen—are you guys supporting each other on a day-to-day basis?
We have the benefit of all the 40-man guys—guys with years in the big leagues—sharing insight with myself and other young guys—including Muñoz and Steven Wilson. Giving us info on how to pitch and go about our days...it’s a good mix of ability and youth and veteranship in our bullpen. We also keep it pretty loose: no one is out to wish ill on someone else’s career. We’re all out there with one goal, and thats to win. We are doing a pretty dang good job of it right now.
What’s your repertoire, and do you share tips with other pitchers down there?
I’m a Fastball/Curveball/Slider guy. I’ve had people come up and ask how I throw my slider, I’ve asked people how to their curve; and I’ve asked people how they throw their fastball so successfully. If you have a question and you go and ask, everyone in this team is willing to help each other out, which is very nice.
Being a SoCal guy, what’s it been like to travel the country throughout your minor league tour?
It’s fun. Baseball has always been something I loved and dreamed of doing as a professional job, and it’s great to go from town-to-town and do what you love, rather than being in an office or something like that. That’s something we take for granted sometimes, but I’m sure when I look back at it someday when I’m retired I’ll realize that being able to travel across the country for free is really one heck of an experience.
Speaking of being in an office—did you have a back-up plan at Loyola in case baseball didn’t work out?
Of course. Real estate. I finished up my license this past offseason, so i’ll strive towards that if something doesn’t work out. My brother-in-law-to-be has been very supportive of getting me on his team and working with him.
So what’s your extended family like? I understand your younger brother is a pitcher as well.
Yeah, my brother is playing in Columbia with the Mets organization and is doing well—he just got ‘Reliever of the Month’ in that league, so he’s kicking butt. My sister just finished up freshman year at USC and got the ‘Strength of Troy’ award for all athletes. That’s a huge accomplishment, being the only female freshman to get that award, so I couldn't be more proud of my siblings.
You’re 6’8 and I see your brother listed at 6’7—I imagine your parents had a hefty grocery bill growing up?
That gets asked quite bit (laughs). My father works for a health and nutrition company so he’s always been about eating healthy our whole lives. Once you get into the minors, it’s eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and rice crispy treats, so it’s a little different.
Speaking of cuisine, how do you eat in El Paso?
A little Tex-Mex. BBQ, too—it just depends on the caterers. I think they rotate it pretty well, not just eating BBQ like in Texas League. In AA you eat BBQ every single day, which gets tired, but here in the PCL it’s mixed up pretty well.
How do you like to unwind off the field?
I golf. A lot of golf. It’s one thing i pride myself on off the field.
Cool, do you have any favorite courses?
That’s a tough one. Industry Hills is one of the tougher ones, Wigwam and JW in Arizona are other favorites, and of course another one I find myself at nearly every day is the Navy golf course in Cypress. They’re all so unique so it’s tough to choose.
What’s strength of your golf game? At 6’8, I imagine you drive it pretty well.
Off the green actually is pretty good, wedges are hands down where I spend most of my time. Anywhere within 100 yards-in I’ve gotten pretty dang good.
You’re 25-going-on-26, and in AAA. I’ve always wondered—is it easy to get anxious being so close to the Bigs, with just one more hurtle to clear?
I’ve only been here for a month-and-a-half. When I was going really good when I first got here, I’ll admit I was kind of like ‘Hey, if I keep this pace I might find myself in the big leagues soon enough’. Then I got a little dose of reality and got hit around a little bit, so now I’m just trying to take it day-by-day and realizing there’s more to learn, more to practice, and I can get better in a lot of places before I go up there and make my statement to stay.
Beside bottom-line results, is there anything the org has told you to work on?
Pitch execution. That, and knowing hitters, knowing their tendencies and how to get them out. You can strike out as many people as you want, but if you give up ‘1’s or ‘2’s as a bullpen guy, it’s not gonna cut it. ‘0’s are what matter here.
And who is helping impart that message?
The putting ‘0’s mentality has come from guys who are up-and-down on the 40-man roster— Maton and Wieck have given me a lot of insight while down here, they’ve been giving me pointers on how to succeed up there. The org gives us a recipe for how to get there and you follow it, and that’s their gauge on whether you’re worthy or not.
Do you get to watch a lot of Padres games? I’m sure you’ve seen our bullpen has struggled this year.
We have Padres games on all day, every day. Everyone is aware the bullpen is struggling, but it’s one of the things where you have to be patient—they are trying to figure their stuff out, and same for us. You just have to wait your turn in line, and if your name gets called go out there and do what you can.
Aside from yourself, which bullpen prospects should Padres fans be excited to see soon?
Muñoz. The kid throws 103 MPH; adding that into the San Diego bullpen would be pretty electric for the crowd. We’ve already got Tatís and Paddack, who are fun to watch and they are electric every single night. I think Muñoz would be a great fit into that category of player.
What do you think of this Padres season?
A little streaky. They’ve dominated with the bats at times, and the home run has been a deciding factor both the MLB and AAA team. From news and social media, everyone seems to be in grievance with our pitching, but once everything clicks our team is gonna be very good for a long time.
And there’s plenty of pitching on the way, right?
Yep, there’s a lot of talented guys in A-ball and AA, and they are pressing to get up here.
You mentioned you left HS early—what was that process like moving forward?
Yeah, I bailed out on HS, got my diploma in the offseason of 2012 or 2011, and was pitching in the Spring of 2012 as a freshman at Loyola. I did well the first year and got hurt my sophomore year, and ended up having Tommy John. The next year, my junior year, was my redshirt season. I did my rehab and everything like that, and got drafted in the third round by the Cardinals without throwing a pitch that year. I turned that down, thinking if I showcased my ability the next year I would be able to do better in the draft. All of those things have landed me here, and who knows—if I was with the Cards, I might not be in AAA at this time.
How did you decide to leave HS early?
Playing baseball in high school wasn’t doing it for me—I didn’t like the spot I was at and thought going into college and graduating as a 20-year-old junior in college was a better spot for me to mature as a pitcher. I wanted to go about the path a little more directly, essentially trying to fast track to the big leagues. I have had a few setbacks, and then having T.J., and in 2015 I had the ‘yips’ like no other. That helped me slide down the draft board until I figured things out.
The ‘yips’—so you couldn’t throw to first, or what?
Couldn’t throw strikes. I had six games in a row where I was horrible. Finally, I was pitching in Portland, and on the second pitch of the game I got a line drive off the elbow and then threw an 8-inning shutout. After that I had a mental block figured out, kicked ass the rest of season and got drafted ultimately.
Is T.J. as much of a pain in the ass as it seems?
It’s a huge pain in the ass (laughs), I’ve gone through T.J., bone spur, and PRP. Three surgeries, that took patience especially with guys in the minors. You get put in a hotel and you go from field to hotel, field to hotel for six days a week. That’s the tough part: you're around friends, but it’s not like being at home where you can be around family or loved ones (Trevor is engaged to his fiancée Katie). I think it’s a bit easier for the younger people to get it than those who get it in the pros. The main thing is doing the rehab, doing the exercises, the conditioning, the working out, the diet. Everything correctly, on a 12-14 month basis. You have to be consistent with it.
Well thanks for sharing the benefit of your experience with us, Trevor. We’ll be rooting for you to succeed the rest of the way this year, and maybe we can talk more when you get called up?
100%. I just hope thats sooner than later!