jeff mcneil mets
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Mets second baseman and resident hit machine, Jeff McNeil, just locked in a significant payday for himself and his family. Before heading to Port St. Lucie to prepare for the 2023 campaign, the ink has dried on a four-year, $50 million extension. That’s much better than going to arbitration, don’t you think?

We all had to come from somewhere, though, and it’s always fun to see pro athletes on the field, court, or ice when they were amateurs. That’s especially the case for dudes who weren’t regarded as top prospects. McNeil fell into that category. He was a 12th-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and didn’t hear his name get called until the 356th selection.

The 2022 batting champion didn’t have the benefit of a huge signing bonus and had to work odd jobs during his journey through the Mets’ minor-league system. That’s all a thing of the past now, thanks to being one of baseball’s most productive second basemen since debuting in 2018.

McNeil, a California native, spent his college days at Long Beach State. The power wasn’t there in 164 games for the 49ers. But, as usual, he could always hit. McNeil slashed .296/.356/.358 as a college player. As many do, he spent the initial part of his offseasons playing summer ball.

McNeil spent the summer after his sophomore year with the Santa Barbara Foresters. He was an integral part of the squad, which won a national championship. Here’s some footage of him legging out an inside-the-park home run:

The YouTube video description calls this a triple and an error, but it sure looks like an inside-the-parker to me. We don’t have a full view of the action, though, so who knows? Let’s just call it a homer.

I love looking around the interwebs for stuff like this. It’s a classic “Here’s what things looked like before they hit it big” type of situation. It’s also great to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. His routine and mannerisms in the batter’s box all look quite similar (if not identical) to what he currently does for the Mets.

My Google sleuthing also unearthed the fact that McNeil was inducted into the Forresters’ Hall of Fame in 2019. Unsurprisingly, the press release said his “speed and hustle” were a big part of the Forresters’ title run.

Once again — the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Matt Musico can be reached at and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.