In the first edition of Meet the Tampa Bay Rays Farm System, top-rated prospect Wander Franco was put under the spotlight. This week features a look at Brendan McKay, who is ranked 15th in the MLB top 100 prospect list. He is also one of the few players who plays both as a starting pitcher and first baseman.
Brendan McKay was born in Darlington, Pennsylvania in 1995. McKay dominated the high school circuit. As a senior, he pitched 73 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings which was only just the start from Brendan McKay. McKay was named the Pennsylvania Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year in both his junior and senior year.
In 2014 McKay was drafted by the San Diego Padres, but he did not sign. Instead, he attended the University of Louisville to play baseball. Here he continued to further his baseball career. McKay was named Baseball America’s Freshmen of the year and won the John Olerud Award as a junior. But the awards didn’t stop there, as McKay was also named the Player of the year his junior year and won the Golden Spikes Award, along with the Dick Howser Trophy.
McKay then finished his schooling and went back into the MLB Draft in 2017. The highly decorated two-way player was then drafted in the first round by the Rays with the fourth overall pick.
Minors Playing Career
McKay started his journey with the Rays with the Hudson Valley Renegades in Low A. In 2017 Mckay had a great year earning a 1.80 ERA and 21 strikeouts. At the plate, he batted .232 with four home runs and 22 RBI.
The pace quickly picked up in 2018, though, when McKay played for three different teams over 75 games. He started in the rookie league for just two games. In his short stint here McKay obtained a 1.50 ERA and nine strikeouts on the mound. At the plate, he made 12 plate appearances but had no hits.
McKay was then called up to Class A again to play for the Bowling Green Hot Rods. With the Hot Rods, McKay pitched well and earned an impressive 1.09 ERA and 40 strikeouts. As for his batting, he batted .254 with one home run and 16 RBI.
McKay then finished out the year in Advanced Class A with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. He netted a 3.21 ERA and 54 strikeouts. While at the plate McKay batted .210 with five home runs and 21 RBI.
Moving Up in 2019
McKay’s quick pace continued as in 2019 McKay played for three more teams. He started the year in Double-A with the Montgomery Biscuits and played a total of 23 games. Over this span, Mckay earned a 1.30 ERA and 62 strikeouts. At the plate, he batted .167 with eight RBI.
McKay was then called up to Triple-A to play with the Durham Bulls, where he played 20 games. During his time in Durham McKay kept up the impressive play by earning a shocking ERA of 0.93 with 32 strikeouts. He even improved his play at the plate racking up a .239 batting average with five home runs, and 11 RBI.
McKay quickly went threw the ranks and then was finally called up to the Majors on June 29th, 2019. Despite having a few seasons where his ERA spiked, for the Most part, McKay was a consistent pitcher that could also swing the bat if needed.
What to look for now
In his first start, McKay turned heads as he took a perfect game into the sixth inning. He was then later pulled after giving up two base runners. McKay has averaged five innings pitched in each of his games due to his lack of experience but in only one of these games has he given up more than three runs. McKay has played one game as the designated hitter for the Rays, but he went hitless in four at bats in the game.
If McKay can continue to be consistent and get deeper into games, the sky is the limit for him. The star-studded prospect has a lot of potential and has shown early on that he can keep runs to a minimum. McKay is working with a great pitching staff, which only means good things for his future.
As for his bat, this is not a major concern for the Rays. While he does have the ability to get some hits, his pitching has bee fantastic. Look for the Rays to keep pushing the pitching side of things of his play.
In the Month of August, McKay has 15 total strikeouts over two games which ties his 15 strikeouts in July over three games. He has been able to get more and more guys to swing and miss, which will benefit him in being able to get deeper into games.
Brendan McKay is a well-oiled pitching machine that has done well already in the big leagues. McKay will need to work on getting deeper into games, but that will only come as he gets older and more playing time. There is no doubt that McKay will be a top pitcher for years to come as he is so good at getting guys out.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images