O.C. Lefty Jake McKenna Signs With Phillies

first_imgBy TIM KELLYAs a lifelong Philadelphia Phillies fan turned aspiring major league pitching prospect, Jake McKenna always dreamed of wearing the Phils’ red pinstripes.On Sunday morning, the dream came true.McKenna, a 6-foot-7-inch, 220-pound lefty and 2020 graduate of Ocean City High School, signed a $20,000 maximum MLB contract for undrafted free agents and will be assigned to the Phils’ rookie league affiliate in Clearwater, Florida.He had spent an anxious Thursday night, hoping to hear his name called among the late fifth round picks in the major league draft. The draft, 31 rounds in 2019, had been shortened to five this year as part of an agreement between MLB and the player’s union and to 20 rounds in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.“When my name wasn’t called, I was really bummed, but not too much because I knew I was still in the mix,” Jake said. “I knew there was still going to be a chance (to sign a pro contract as a free agent).”There had been interest from 22 major league teams prior to the health crisis wiping out his senior season.As the last few picks of the draft were called, Jake was contacted by representatives of the Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals and Phils.“Essentially, they all told us to stay by the phone on Sunday,” his dad Ryan said.“Then at 9 o’clock my phone lit up,” said Jake. Representatives of all four teams called, almost simultaneously.“It came down to the Royals and the Phillies. The money was going to be the same,” his dad said.“They are both outstanding organizations, but the Phillies had the advantage,” he added, citing Philly’s geographic proximity, but mostly for Jake’s chance to play for his favorite team.Jake McKenna, in action during his brief high school career at Ocean City High. (Photo courtesy of Twitter).When he took the Phillies call, “It seemed like a dream. It didn’t seem real,” Jake said.But real, it certainly was.On the other end of the line was Phillies Director of Scouting Brian Barber welcoming Jake to the organization. Next, scout Jeff Zona contacted him with the actual contract, which was offered, signed and returned in pandemic-fighting electronic fashion.McKenna, who had committed to play baseball at St. Joseph’s University, forfeited his NCAA eligibility when he signed the deal.However, his bonus covers four years of tuition, room and board at SJU, a value of more than $250,000, which he can draw upon for online classes, use at another institution, or to learn a trade.St. Joe’s loss is the Phils’ gain, according to Mike Adams, co-owner of the Baseball Performance Center in Pleasantville, where Jake trains.“They are getting a tall left-handed pitcher with speed in the high 80s to low 90s, a good breaking ball, projectable to be a very good (MLB player),” Adams said.Intangibles such as mound demeanor, work ethic, loyalty and family orientation give Jake’s signing additional value, he noted.“He’s one of the hardest and most consistent workers,” Adams said, “and just a great kid — funny, not boastful, and a great personality.”The Red Raiders’ closer in 2019, Jake was ticketed to start in the scholastic season lost to COVID-19.In the previous year, his role translated to limited duty, leading to just 8.1 innings and 191 pitches. Scattered throughout his brief stint was an eye-opening total of 18 strikeouts, and he enjoyed a strong summer season of independent ball.The clincher came this spring, his dad said, at a major scouting showcase in Jupiter, Florida. With pitchers limited to two innings of action, all Jake did was strike out five and get the sixth out on a pop-up.Besides dominating the hitters, the big league scouts marveled at McKenna’s poise in the spotlight.“He is incredibly calm on the mound,” his father said. “I think that’s the main reason he is so good.”Ever since Jupiter, the plan was to go from being a full-time student, part-time athlete to the reverse. The plan became a reality Sunday morning.Which made for a long night and early Sunday morning for Jake, who got, how much sleep? The question brought a chuckle.“Umm, really I don’t think I slept at all.”Jake McKenna tried on the cap of his new baseball organization. (Photo courtesy of McKenna family) Jake McKenna celebrates with his family after signing his first pro contract. From left are dad Ryan, mom Erika and sister Natalie. (Photo courtesy McKenna family)last_img read more

Finsbury invests in bakery divisions as sales drops

first_imgCake and bread manufacturer Finsbury Food Group has revealed group sales revenues dropped to £175.7m from £176.6m the previous year, following the sale of its free-from business in February last year.Second half growth in the UK bakery business reversed the first half decline and sales for the year were broadly flat at £153.7m in the report to the year ending 28 June 2014. Sales in Lightbody Europe, the group’s 50%-owned European business have declined by 1.2% for the full year to £22m. However, the business is in good shape with a shift to higher margins.Profit levels are ahead of last year as a result of introducing actions to increase sales via market activity as well as reduce costs via the benefits from capital investment and overhead reduction programme implemented in the second half. These actions also helped against ongoing cost inflation.In line with its stated strategy, Finsbury has doubled capital investment to more than £6m in the year.Within the UK bakery division, cake capital investment projects successfully completed in the year included the new single serve cake slice ‘snap pack’ line as well as the largest cake bites robotic picking installation in the world. The Nicolas and Harris speciality bread facility expansion, delivering 60% additional space, has also been successfully commissioned and is now fully operational.John Duffy, chief executive, said: “Our continued capital investment programme is heralding positive signs and we are encouraged by the contribution that this has made. Although cost inflation keeps margins under pressure, the strategies we have in place have mitigated against this and with more favourable profit dynamics; we are well placed to take advantage of the market as it improves.”last_img read more

Lindsey Buckingham Breaks Silence On Fleetwood Mac Firing [Watch]

first_imgFormer Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham spoke publicly about his firing from the band for the first time on Friday night. Buckingham, who first joined Fleetwood Mac in 1975, made the comments during a fundraiser for Mike Levin, a California Democrat who is running to represent the state’s 49th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.During his performance at the event, Buckingham used his platform to draw parallels between the infighting that led to his ousting from Fleetwood Mac and the turmoil that has defined American politics in recent years. As reported by Jeremy Roberts via Medium, Buckingham told those in attendance:“It’s been an interesting time on a lot of levels. For me, personally, probably some of you know that for the last three months I have sadly taken leave of my band of 43 years, Fleetwood Mac. This was not something that was really my doing or my choice.“I think what you would say is that there were factions within the band that had lost their perspective [a female fan shouts, ‘F **k Stevie Nicks!,’ prompting Buckingham to raise his hand]. Well, it doesn’t really matter. The point is that they’d lost their perspective. What that did was to harm — and this is the only thing I’m really sad about, the rest of it becomes an opportunity — it harmed the 43-year legacy that we had worked so hard to build [another admirer chimes in, ‘That you built, Lindsey’]. That legacy was really about rising above difficulties in order to fulfill one’s higher truth and one’s higher destiny.“Now, we also are at a point with our country in Washington where there’s been a loss of perspective. Mr. Dean [John W. Dean, President Richard Nixon’s White House Counsel and Watergate star witness who spoke earlier at the fundraiser] saw it first-hand 45 years ago. I think the difference was that perhaps there were more separations of powers. There was more potential for checks and balances in that loss of perspective. The loss of perspective we see now is indeed threatening to harm the legacy that is the United States.“In the context of that you’ve gotta think of what needs to be done. It is not gonna come from the top down — it is gonna come from the ground up. This is why we are here. And so, I am most honored and most pleased to have been asked in my own small way to help in that pushback which very, very much needs to happen in order to continue the legacy that we all have come to value. So, thank you for having me.”As previously reported, Buckingham was dismissed from Fleetwood Mac last month. The American guitarist and singer was replaced by The Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, who will join Fleetwood Mac on their upcoming 50-date tour. Longtime Fleetwood Mac members Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood both commented on Buckingham’s firing when that tour was announced a few weeks ago.You can watch a video of Buckingham’s speech at Friday night’s fundraiser below.Lindsey Buckingham comments on his firing from Fleetwood Mac[Video: Brian Larsen][H/T – Rolling Stone]last_img read more