By Troy Mauriello
Former St. John’s baseball standout Ryan McAuliffe is staying home — sort of.
The dominant Red Storm right-handed pitcher signed a minor-league contract with the New York Mets June 29 after going undrafted in the 2017 MLB Draft. Now, he’s ready to take his game to the next level.
McAuliffe won’t be playing his games 10 minutes away from the St. John’s campus at Citi Field just yet, but he’s still thrilled to begin his time in the organization with their Gulf Coast League affiliate.
“It’s literally been just a dream come true,” McAuliffe said. “Growing up your whole life, you dream to play professional baseball. And for most people, it doesn’t happen, but for the select few, it does, for whatever reason it is.”
The path to professional ball has been a long one for McAuliffe, a native of North Reading, Mass., but that isn’t anything new. McAuliffe has dealt with adversity for a majority of his baseball career, he said, including this past season, when he lost two months due to injury.
McAuliffe started the 2017 season as the dominant ace the Red Storm expected him to be. He led the Johnnies to a victory over then-defending national champion Coastal Carolina in February and pitched to a 1.08 ERA through his first four starts, before injury struck.
Although he returned later in the season and helped the Red Storm in postseason play, McAuliffe noted that every player eventually goes through some sort of hardship throughout his career, and the real question is how he responds to it.
“My whole life I’ve dealt with adversity, every year there’s something,” he said. “But usually the greats have adversity. There’s no great baseball player that has been the same throughout their whole life. Everyone has their ups and downs.”
If anything, McAuliffe noted, the injury allowed him to put things in perspective and to realize just how lucky he is.
“I think it allows you to see the bigger picture of things,” he said. “Baseball is just a game, and you’re blessed to be playing a game for your life, and now that I’m getting paid to do something that I love, it’s a dream come true.”
Now back from injury, McAuliffe will get a chance to prove himself with the Gulf Coast Mets. The experience, however, is not an unfamiliar one for the prospect.
Prior to coming to St. John’s, McAuliffe played two seasons at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts, where he was an All-American.
Despite that success, he still had to prove himself on the Division I level upon his arrival to St. John’s in 2016. Now, he’ll face a similar challenge at the professional level.
“I was able to take a small adjustment from JUCO and turn that to Division I. So in pro ball you take the adjustments that you made in Division I and transfer them to pro ball,” McAuliffe said.
No matter where his professional career takes him or what success he finds, McAuliffe remains confident in one thing remaining constant over the years: the support that he will receive from manager Ed Blankmeyer and the Red Storm baseball program.
And while the goal remains to make the big leagues, even if baseball doesn’t work out, McAuliffe knows that his recent degree from St. John’s will provide him with a great a backup option.
“Obviously I want to play for as long as I can, but whatever happens, happens,” he said. “I want to get better every day and if that doesn’t work out, I always have my degree from St. John’s, so I can go into the workforce after baseball’s over.”