For many baseball players, the goal is simple: play well enough to become part of the incredible fraternity known as the big leagues. Sometimes that dream flames out, but for those lucky few, they never forget that call from the organization who selected them.
And for former Central Bear ace Trevor McKenna, that call came on June 8th, 2018.
Following the customary first-year 40-round MLB entry draft, which came and went without being selected, McKenna finally received the greatest call in his life from Arizona Diamondbacks scout Hudson Belinsky.
“It’s surreal”, McKenna said during a celebration Sunday at Marco’s Pizza on Commercial Way. “Being able to realize a dream I’ve had since I was five is great, and I can’t wait to get started”.
Interestingly, the phone call didn’t come in front of family members, but with someone just as close.
“I was actually out with my girlfriend (Allison Sannuto) down in International Mall in Tampa,” admitted McKenna, “and she was saying ‘No phones, this is our time’, but I couldn’t resist because any call might be (Hudson). When he did call and said, ‘Do you still want to be a member of the Diamondbacks?’ and I said “Yes, absolutely,” she pressed up against the phone and heard everything.”
Of course, the next phone call he made was to his parents Dennis and Linda McKenna. And their reaction was priceless: “We basically just stared at each other, then she started to cry. I naturally gave a proud “Yes!” because this is the culmination of all the hard work he’s done.”
For the young 22-year-old, this is a culmination of a lifelong journey to this point. Growing up in Brooksville, the young hurler first gained publicity playing youth ball on the fields of Anderson Snow Sports Complex. And even then, the potential for future success was present.
Following his time there, McKenna starred on the mound at Central High School, dominating opposing hitters with his fastball, slider, and signature changeup which had almost the same amount of movement as a knuckleball. That pitch, McKenna said, is “my bread and butter. I was just messing around with grips throwing with my dad one day, and I just felt something with this one. I found my pitch, and I’m looking forward to using it against the professional hitters.”
After graduating in 2014 with high honors, McKenna went to Lake Sumter Community College in Leesburg, taking on the closer role for a season. Following the stint there, he received a full ride to Savannah State University in southern Georgia, a school which gained notoriety because a former product of the school, Shannon Sharpe, who currently resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
During his time at SSU, McKenna started as their No. 2 option, but eventually settled in the opening Friday night role. One great moment while enrolled was back in March, when he pitched against the University of Central Florida in Orlando. “It’s funny how people say when the spotlight shines the most, and it did that night. Having my family there and some close friends from my time as a Bear was awesome. Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the win, but having that experience was something I’ll cherish forever”, said McKenna.
When asked about his best moment while a member of the Tigers, McKenna said “I pitched seven innings against North Carolina Central, and despite coming out with a loss, I finished with 15 strikeouts against one of the top teams in the country. This was one of my best highlights, no doubt.”
Following the start at UCF, McKenna proceeded to graduate with a degree in business from Savannah State. His final GPA: a whopping 3.8, good for summa cum laude honors. “I wanted to have a degree which would help set me up for future success. Business has always been something I’ve had an interest in, and I wanted to have a backup plan set in case.”
Most recently, McKenna started a local pitching instruction business, called Field Level Baseball Training, for local youth players in Hernando County. In anticipation of the MLB draft, Trevor was invited to pitch two innings against the Phillies’ Gulf Coast League team in Clearwater.
While at Central, according to his mother Linda, there was a moment which turned out to be his best, and ironically the moment wasn’t supposed to be for him. “Central was playing against Springstead, where Trevor proceeded to throw a no-hitter against the Eagles. There were many scouts there to observe Brandon Brosher, who was eventually drafted by the New York Mets. At the completion of the game, Trevor’s dad was approached by the area scout of the Boston Red Sox, who stressed to him how impressive Trevor was on the mound, and he thought Trevor had a shot and would follow him through his college days.”
For his father, the best moment came last summer in Carey, North Carolina. “Trevor had the opportunity to pitch three innings against Team USA’s collegiate team. Their lineup consisted of five guys who recently played in the College World Series. Trevor’s stats for the three innings: one hit, zero runs, five strikeouts, and no walks.”
The future for McKenna started on Monday, as he flew out to Scottsdale, Arizona for a physical, which he passed with flying colors. Following this and receiving all sorts of official team gear, the young hurler was flown out to Oregon on the same night to join the Diamondbacks’ Class-A short season team, the Hillsboro Hops. Fun fact about the Hops: as an organization, they have won four Northwestern League titles (two when previously located in Yakima, Washington) and are three years removed from back-to-back division and league titles. Update as of last Friday: Trevor debuted for the Hops and pitched two hitless innings.
It only took 22 years for McKenna’s childhood dream to become a reality. It’s only a matter of time before the major leagues find out what we all know about him, both as a player and a person.