Whether it’s fraternal twins like Nick Madrigal at Oregon State and Ty Madrigal at St. Mary’s College, or brothers playing together for a year or two (e.g. Conor and Cavan Biggio, formerly at Notre Dame), a major part of their collegiate careers overlap. What’s unusual is to find brothers who play for the same school, at the same position, but never at the same time.
Enter Joe & Jake McCarthy of the Virginia Cavaliers. Both are left-handed outfielders, both can run and hit for average, and both happen to have exceled during their time in Charlottesville. However, their stints as Cavaliers were completely separate.
Joe played for Virginia from 2013-2015, and was on the National Championship team his senior year. He had a career batting average of .294, an OBP of .423, and stole 25 bases in 27 attempts. Jake is currently at Virginia, going back to 2016. He has a career batting average of .336, an OBP of .429, and has stolen 35 bases in 37 attempts.
Joe was injured for a good part of his junior year, before coming back and having an impact in the postseason. He was subsequently drafted in the fifth round by Tampa Bay. Jake, a junior, is currently out with a wrist injury. He’s projected as a late day one or day two draft pick this May. Both McCarthys also played football and baseball while in high school. Twin sons born three years apart?
Joe had a number of offers to play baseball while in high school, as did Jake.
“Joe committed after the summer before his senior year,” the younger McCarthy said. “He came down for a couple of visits, and I think at the time we were number one in the country. Watching that team play, it set into him that he wanted to come here.”
But was it a given that Jake would also play for the Cavaliers?
“I committed much earlier than him, it was after my sophomore year,” he said. “Coming down here and watching Joe play, and seeing the success that he had, I kind of also wanted that. It also allowed me to get more insight into the program. I’m glad that I’m here.”
Asked if he felt any pressure to live up to Joe’s accomplishments at Virginia, Jake chuckled a little bit before replying, “I get that question a lot. I’ve been his little brother for 20 years now. So I’ve always been doing things a couple years after him. I tried to look up to him, he’s been a very good role model.”
But Jake is his own person, with his own set of goals.
“I don’t play to live up to or mimic what other players have done,” he said. “That would take the fun out of it.”
Of course, as with almost any set of siblings, there was sibling rivalry.
”Oh, for sure,” Jake said. “He was always a lot bigger than I was. I was playing with him and his friends, I was always the little guy tagging along. But I learned a lot playing with guys who were a lot bigger than me. “
The pair are pretty similar ballplayers, right down to their hitting styles. While not complete clones, there are plenty of commonalities.
“I think we’re pretty similar,” Jake said. “I might be a bit more aggressive in certain circumstances. He walked a bit more than I do. Maybe he also has more power than me, but I like to think that I’m growing into it.” In terms of defense, Jake said that “It’s mostly an instincts thing playing the outfield. But growing up watching him play, I definitely learned some things without even realizing it.”
Given their statuses as prospects near the end of their respective college careers, it’s easy to wonder if Joe counseled Jake on how to handle scouts. Jake was very clear that he and Joe aren’t focusing on that.
“We don’t consume ourselves with that sort of stuff,” he said. “Right now I play for UVA.”
Oh by the way, Joe and Jake both wore no. 31 while at Virginia. It’s a McCarthy thing, and Cavalier baseball is better for it.