AUSTIN, Texas — As a four-year walk-on at Texas, Jake McKenzie always knew he would need to rely on his academics to be successful after his college baseball career ended. Now, a quick decision to major in petroleum engineering is about to start paying off.
“I looked over at my dad while I was filling out the application and said which one should I do and he said petroleum was the hardest to get into at the time, so I went for petroleum and ending up getting in and stuck with it for all four years. [My] uncle said it would be a good fit,” said Jake McKenzie, former Longhorn first baseman and pitcher.
While there’s a chance McKenzie could’ve been drafted in a later round if he had shown interest in a professional career, he decided to hang up the cleats and put his 3.95 GPA to good use.
“I didn’t see myself making it to the MLB which is where you have to be to get paid, so I didn’t see it being worth it in my opinion,” McKenzie said.
In July, he will begin a two-year rotational program at EOG Resources in San Antonio. After six months with each of the four disciplines, McKenzie will begin working at one of them. He previously interned at the oil and gas company.
“He’s a real go getter, real passionate, hard worker,” said McKenzie’s future supervisor, Derrick Gibson, EOG Resources drilling manager. “I think anyone who can play at that level in college and still maintain their games and everything, that’s really impressive and shows their dedication.”
And McKenzie thinks his experience with team work in baseball helped him in the interview process because of the coordination needed out in the field with other specialists.
“It’s important to be able to work well with others because there’s no way you can get it done by yourself, so being able to work well with others is a key aspect of this job,” McKenzie.
“The skill set he had thee and that team mentality, to bring it into our team, I think that’s a real big plus,” Gibson said.
McKenzie knew he wasn’t going to be highly drafted, and thought everyone else as well, so he tweeted out “for those of you who are surprised to not hear my name called in the MLB Draft, I told all of the very interested teams beforehand that I’ll be taking my talents to EOG Resources in San Antonio after the season. #hookem.”
But people quickly began taking the tweet seriously and congratulating him.
“I heard another person say ‘oh I didn’t think he was like that’ like all cocky like that and then I was like okay I need to stop this because I don’t want people to think that I think that teams were very interested in me,’” McKenzie said.
It’s ironic because McKenzie also has a reputation for being humble. The president of EOG says he was very impressed when he met McKenzie while the recent graduate was giving a tour of a new engineering building at Texas and didn’t even mention that he was about to play in the regional tournament until asked why he wouldn’t be starting at EOG until July.
“Yeah I try to keep it low key because I don’t want anyone to treat me differently because I play baseball at Texas, so I try to keep it under the radar,” McKenzie said.
And his message for other athletes who think they can’t make it at the collegiate or professional level?
“Just not being highly recruited, I took a chance on my baseball career, but i ended up being able to play all four years, nothing was guaranteed. but when people doubt you, i mean anyone can doubt you but no one thought i’d be playing baseball at Texas for four years,” McKenzie said.