With the fourth overall pick, the Rays selected two-way star Brendan McKay from Louisville. While pre-draft buzz indicated the Rays would have him only hit, reports on Monday indicate otherwise.
According to MLB.com, McKay’s hit tool grades as plus with average power. According to FanGraphs’ tools primer, if he plays to those grades in the majors, he’d be a .280 hitter with 15-18 home runs annually. MLB’s report indicates his ceiling is that of a .300 hitter with 20 home runs.
Baseball America’s report is very similar, saying, “he was in the discussion for being the best pure hitter in the draft class,” but scouts “remain mixed on his overall power potential.”
At FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen is more bullish on his power potential, giving him a chance to hit for plus power in games. He grades McKay’s hit tool a 55 (above average).
Going the bat route would likely slow down his ascent to the majors, but focusing on being a position player could provide better results from the bat, defense, and on the bases. The knock is he’s limited to first base.
On the mound, McKay’s talent is clear as well. Again according to MLB.com, he has three average or better pitches, led by a plus curveball, above-average fastball and average changeup. He’s also working on a cutter.
His low-90s fastball is graded as an average pitch by FanGraphs, and both his curveball and changeup have above-average grades.
Baseball America puts above-average grades on his fastball and curveball and notes he needs to work on his changeup as a professional. BA also states that his best attribute on the mound is his command, which is generally believed to be above average.
It’s not a tool on a scouting report, but every source praises his calm demeanor and attitude on the mound.
While some may scoff at the potential grades of his pitches, one significant wild card in McKay’s development will be his bat. If he became a full-time pitcher, could he be better? Perhaps being on a consistent routine helps him hold his fastball velocity deeper into games and gives him a chance to develop his secondary pitches and continue to refine his command.
Because of the unique nature of McKay’s abilities, there’s no standard blueprint for the Rays to follow to develop him into a major leaguer. His path to the bigs will be among the most interesting among any recent prospect in baseball.
[Gifs courtesy 2080 Baseball]