Mavs’ second baseman proving he belongs

Kevin Becker hitting for Mesa State.

Kevin Becker has always played like he’s had something to prove.

The Mesa State College junior from San Jose, Calif., would often be overlooked in favor of a bigger kid, but the 5-foot-9, 170-pound second baseman has always overcome the odds to play.

“I’ve always been on the small side,” Becker said. “I had to overcome everything because of my height. It is great motivation for me to use.  I do things twice as hard because of my height. I’ve got to stand out more and do more to stand out.

“In high school, my junior year, the varsity coach was basically telling I wasn’t good enough to be varsity.  Once he said that, I wanted to prove I could play on this team. I’d be the first one there and the last to leave. ”

Becker worked on his hitting with his dad, who was the hitting coach for the team, and also worked with a hitting coach affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“I think that helped me a lot, a lot of the mental stuff because the mental part is huge,” Becker said. “Finding release points, seeing the ball coming out of the pitcher’s hands.”

He wasn’t highly recruited, signing with West Valley (Calif.) College out of high school. He hit .382 with 13 doubles, three triples and three home runs to help the team to the semifinals of the state tournament, but he still wasn’t drawing a lot of interest.

Mesa State coach Chris Hanks kept an eye on him, though.

“He was telling me about the program and he’d be following me through the year,” Becker said. “I’d never been used to getting calls from schools or being recruited.

“Eventually, I looked up everything online, the school, history and baseball. They have a good tradition here and that had a great influence on (my decision).”

He came to Mesa State with a chip still firmly on his shoulder and earned the starting second base job.

He bears an uncanny resemblance to another undersized former second baseman who became a starter for the Mavs, assistant coach Sean McKinney.

“He comes to work every day in practice and he plays the game hard and smart,” Hanks said.

“He’s always trying to prove something. His work ethic is great.

“The only thing he has going against him is a lot of people think he looks like Sean McKinney. I’d say that’s the only thing working against him.”

Becker hits in the versatile two hole, where he might lay down a bunt to advance a base runner or find a way to get on base for the Mavericks’ No. 3 and 4 hitters, Mike Provencher and Matt Bodenchuk.

“He can handle the bat,” Hanks said. “He can bunt, he can drag, he can push, he can sac bunt. He runs really well. He can hit and run. He’s got some pop and a great eye at the plate .”

Becker has taken full advantage of his spot in the order, hitting .319 with three triples and eight RBI.

“It’s like I’ve said before, I’ll probably see some good pitches with Mikey and Bode behind me,” Becker said. “That’s the advantage of being in the spot I am. Now, we’ve got (Grant) Vickers and Corey (Todhunter) and those guys are hot. When you’ve got hot players like that, it’s a lot of fun.”


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