ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) It is exceedingly rare for Vermonters to be drafted by Major League Baseball teams .
"It's something that I've been dreaming about," said Essex Junction native Theo McDowell. "I worked my whole life to do it. And it's pretty awesome that I was able to come out of high school and do it."
But McDowell did just that in the Summer of 2018, and he's now in his third year as a pitcher in the Texas Rangers organization.
"I've probably learned the most about baseball in the past two years that I ever have," McDowell said. "Amazing baseball players I'm surrounded by, you kinda just eat that up.'"
In February, he reported to the Rangers' Spring Training facility in Arizona to begin workouts with the goal of being assigned to a full season minor league affiliate...but for obvious reasons, that's not how things worked out.
"We were throwing live to hitters, getting our workouts in every day. We had an org meeting and the rug kinda got swept from underneath us," McDowell said.
McDowell and most of the American players in the Rangers system were sent home in March as baseball hoped to wait out the coronavirus pandemic .
"We kinda were just in that limbo state and kinda just waiting to see, and we still are," he said.
The Majors have announced a plan to return to action next month, but there has been virtually no news on the minors. So McDowell has spent the last three months working on a throwing program, keeping himself ready for when the time comes to return to the bump .
"My normal long toss is probably about 85 throws and I get out to at least 300 feet just to air it out as much as I can," McDowell said.
As for his bullpen sessions, the newly opened Strike Zone in Essex has been huge since he returned in mid-March .
"You can't throw outside when you know it's the cold winters in Vermont," McDowell said. "Being able to throw in here and get my work in, it helps me out a lot."
Though it has been hard, there has been one positive on-field side affect from this time spent at home .
"This pause is definitely helped me mentally," he said. "Like I'm developing pitches right now and a lot of that is hard to do when you're kinda full steam ahead in a season. You don't have that time that you kinda do right now to just think about hitting your spots, keeping your body right, eating right. It's a blessing in disguise for sure."
And once he can get back into games, McDowell hopes to continue working his way up and one day make his big league dream come true.