Encinitas native drafted by San Diego Padres
Maxwell MacNabb, the star La Costa Canyon High School pitcher who went on to greatness while playing at USD, was drafted earlier this summer by the San Diego Padres in a “dreamlike” scenario.
“When I saw my name pop up on the computer on the last day of the draft, it was pure excitement,” he said from his hotel in Peoria, Ariz., where the Padres have a training camp.
“I had a good feeling, but you never know. It wasn’t for sure I was going to get drafted by anyone. Once it happened, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I took that day to relax and be calm and not worry about it. I hung out with my friends that night. That was on a Friday, and by Monday morning I was on my way to Arizona for physicals.”
For MacNabb, being drafted by the Padres is the latest in a long road of accomplishments in the sport after first playing Little League in Encinitas.
“I lived down the street from Park Dale Lane, so I was always at those fields,” he said. “Playing Little League was a no-brainer for me; it was what everyone did in that neighborhood.”
However, he didn’t get serious about baseball until high school.
“I started to focus on it much more,” said MacNabb, who won “Pitcher of the Year” in 2010 while playing for La Costa Canyon.
“Playing for (La Costa Varsity Baseball) Coach Machado and with my friends was the greatest. Those years were some of the most fun.”
Perhaps the root of that fun came from the success of the team, which won division titles multiple years in a row, catapulting MacNabb into the awareness of college recruiters.
“Once I got into my junior and senior years of high school, I became much more focused,” MacNabb said. “Everything was preparing me for the next step, whether it was weight-lifting or practice. I was gearing up for the college level.”
MacNabb’s shot at college ball arrived when the powers that be at the University of San Diego’s baseball program came calling: a Division I team.
“Showing up as a freshman to a Division I team so accomplished was definitely a challenge,” said MacNabb, who joined USD’s ranks in fall 2010. “The game is the same, but everything that goes into it gets a little bigger and little faster. But it was a great experience, and another stepping stone learning to be a better pitcher.”
McNabb’s success as he traversed those stepping stones caught the attention of the San Diego Padres, a team that he had grown up watching.
“When they were calling me and considering me, I almost couldn’t believe that the Padres, who I’ve been a fan of for so long, had any interest in me at all,” he said.
The interest came in the form of an invitation to join their minor league system, and MacNabb became one of the 40 players the Padres drafted in June.
“Any team, anywhere could have drafted me,” said MacNabb of his luck. “Just getting drafted is a dream come true, but for me, having the Padres draft me made it that much more unbelievable.”
For now, MacNabb is attempting to make the most of his opportunity while playing in the rookie-level Arizona League, run by Major League Baseball.
“We’re about 25 games in so far,” MacNabb said. “There are some really good guys out here; it’s really fun. Being in Arizona is a little bit of a change, though.”
He isn’t sure where he’s going to end up, but he is making sure not to stress about his future.
“All I’m doing now is trying to make a name for myself pitching, and the rest will take care of itself,” MacNabb said.
“I’m not concerning myself with how long I’ve been here or what level I’m at. You pitch and play, and you don’t know what happens. Growing up and watching (Padres legends like) Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman, and now seeing the ‘S.D.’ logo on my uniform ... it’s surreal.”