Monday, June 5, 2017

Twins MLB Draft Preview: Brendan McKay

Photo Credit: University of Louisville Sports Information
Since 2010, the Twins have selected three college players in the first round, right-handed pitcher Alex Wimmers, shortstop Levi Michael and left-handed pitcher Tyler Jay. Wimmers and Michael have failed to transform into MLB regulars. Jay was drafted with the hopes of being a top tier starter. This spring the Twins announced he will be used as a relief pitcher moving forward.

Today's profile looks at one of the players expect to come off the board with a top-3 pick. His college experience and skills on both side of the ball make him an intriguing prospect. Will he be the Twins' choice at number one?

McKay is a left-handed pitcher and first baseman from the University of Louisville. He was originally drafted in the 34th round of the 2014 draft by the San Diego Padres. His commitment to Louisville was strong and that decision seems to have paid off. McKay is 6-2, 220 pounds and was born on December 18, 1995.

McKay has been a legitimate two-way threat during his collegiate career. As a freshman, he hit .308/.418/.431. He followed that up by hitting .333/.415/.513 as a sophomore. On the mound, he was even more impressive. Over 97 innings during his first year, he posted a 1.77 ERA with a 117 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. He avoided a sophomore slump with a 2.30 ERA and a 128 to 42 strikeout to walk ratio over 110 innings.

During his junior campaign, McKay has made huge strides at the plate. He's combined for a 1.159 OPS and 17 home runs which is more homers than his first two seasons combined. On the mound, he ranks in the top-10 for strikeouts despite having pitched fewer innings than all of the other's in the top-10. columnist Jim Callis told USA Today that he doesn't believe there has been a prospect who was equally highly regarded as both a pitcher and a hitter as McKay since Dave Winfield out of the University of Minnesota in 1973. Winfield, a Minnesota native, went on to a Hall of Fame career as a hitter and that comparison could make the Twins want to pull the trigger on McKay.

As the season has stretched on, McKay has seen some wear and tear from playing on both sides of the ball. His fastball has dropped to 88-91 mph but he has also been working on adding a cut fastball. He hasn't been able to refine pitching or hitting since he has been spending time doing both. His velocity isn't overwhelming and it's not hard for big league teams to find a first baseman/DH who can hit for power.

McKay's stock has definitely dropped as the spring has progressed. He doesn't have the athletic ability of some other top college picks from recent years like Kris Bryant or Dansby Swanson. If McKay's future is on the mound, there are better pitchers the Twins will look at before taking McKay. Baseball America also think McKay would be better suited to be part of a National League organization. This would allow him to continue to pitch and hit on a regular basis.

Even with a slow end to his spring, McKay is still one of the first names Commissioner Manfred will announce on June 12. Will he be trading in a Cardinals jersey for new Twins digs?

Other draft-related articles:
Twins Daily Draft Preview
Royce Lewis
Pavin Smith

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