With the No. 4 pick in the draft, the Rays selected first baseman/left-handed pitcher Brendan McKay from Louisville. He was recently named Baseball America’s College Player of the Year.
McKay, 21, is a two-way star for the Cardinals, who are still alive in the College World Series. At the plate, he’s batted .343 with a .464 on-base percentage and .657 slugging percentage. His 17 home runs are second on the team, and he has more walks (45) than strikeouts (36).
On the mound, he’s pitched 104 innings in 16 starts as Louisville’s Friday starter (ace). He owns an impressive 2.34 ERA and 140 strikeouts to just 33 walks this season.
Impressively, the Rays appear to have not committed McKay to one role, pitching or hitting, which perhaps helps the Rays in contract negotiations with the player.
Hearing two-way star Brendan McKay at 4—could do both for the #Rays.— Hudson Belinsky (@hudsonbelinsky) June 12, 2017
MLB Network's draft show is incorrect. Brendan McKay expects to play first base and pitch in the Tampa Bay Rays' minor league system.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 12, 2017
The Minnesota Twins shook up the draft when they took SS Royce Lewis, well respected by the Rays, with the No. 1 overall selection. This caused top grade prospects RHP Hunter Greene, RHP Kyle Wright, and 1B/LHP Brendan McKay to fall, with Greene taken by the Reds at No. 2 overall.
The Padres deferred from taking Wright by choosing a high school lefty MacKenzie Gore instead, giving the Rays a difficult choice: RHP Kyle Wright, or 1B/LHP Brendan McKay.
In the end, the Rays felt the best college hitter in the draft was the path they should take, not much unlike 1B Casey Gillaspie two years ago, but with the added advantage that McKay was also one of the best lefty pitchers in the first round as well.
McKay is a true two-way player, making this an exciting pick to follow through his player development.
McKay was recently named the ACC Player of the Year, and a first team all american for Baseball America.