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Rays prospects and minor leagues: Brendan McKay delivers in pitching debut

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All eyes were on the 2017 first round draft pick Brendan McKay as he made his pitching debut for Hudson Valley on Sunday.

The Rays took Brendan McKay with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, but had to wait over a month and a half to get him on the mound for his first pitching start as a professional. The LHP/1B already has 7 appearances at 1B and 3 at DH, but on Sunday he gave maybe his most impressive showing yet. Here were some of my notes on his 2.0 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K performance:

  • McKay was limited to 2 innings or 35 pitches, whichever came first.
  • He started the game with a 94 mph fastball for a strike, which is at the very upper end of the velocity range he typically pitches in.
  • His sneaker game is on point. I wonder if he knows fellow LHP Blake Snell is a sneaker-head as well.
  • The two fly balls he induced weren’t particularly deep. One was shallow, the other was medium depth.
  • 3 of his 4 strike outs were with his fastball. The other was either a change up or curve ball (it was difficult to tell).
  • After being mostly fastball / curve ball in college, he was clearly focused on developing his change up on Sunday. Most of the 31 pitches he threw were fastballs and change ups. He may have only thrown 2 or 3 curves.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (66-41)

On a day when the Durham Bulls relied on the bullpen to get all 27 outs, Chih-Wei Hu was credited with the win even though he was the only Durham pitcher to allow a run. Ryan Garton, Jose Alvarado, Andrew Kittredge, Chaz Roe, and Jeff Ames all contributed scoreless outings, while Johnny Field and Mike Marjama contributed most of the offense. Top prospects Willy Adames and Jake Bauers reached base twice each as well.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (59-47)

Montgomery scored early, then Chattanooga scored late and again in extra innings to come back and hand the Biscuits a loss. Genesis Cabrera somehow provided 5 shutout innings on 80 pitches, giving up 6 hits and 4 walks in the process. Nick Ciuffo contributed the only extra base hits for Montgomery, going 2-4 with 2 doubles. He is slashing .412/.500/.676 over his last 10 games.

Class A-Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (49-54)

The Stone Crabs game was suspended after 4 innings due to rain. Blame it on Tim Tebow, who was playing for the visiting St. Lucie Mets. Burch Smith probably would have continued past his 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER) effort as he was at only 66 pitches on the day.

Class-A Bowling Green Hot Rods (52-51)

The Hot Rods overcame a 3 run deficit in the first inning to get the win, 4-3 over the South Bend Cubs. Adrian Navas settled down to end up going 7.0 innings of 3 run (1 earned) ball on 96 pitches. Jonah Heim chipped in 3 hits, while Josh Lowe and Jesus Sanchez provided two each as well.

Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades (18-21)

Brendan McKay and Jhonleider Salinas combined for 9 strike outs over 7 shutout innings to carry Hudson Valley toward their 1-0 win in 10 innings. Vidal Brujan lead off, reach base twice, stole his 6th base of the season, and provided the walk off hit in the bottom of the 10th.

Go to this milb page to check out Sunday’s box scores, and then go here to see today’s match ups. Looks like a pretty busy day with every team in the organization scheduled to play except for the Durham Bulls.