The Tampa Bay Rays had Brendan McKay fall to them at No. 4, and they plan to foster his versatility.
It’s hard to say the fourth overall pick in any draft could be a value, but the Tampa Bay Rays may have gotten one in Louisville LHP/first baseman Brendan McKay. The Minnesota Twins were reportedly considering him at No. 1, but money and signability seems to have been a factor in their shift toward high school shortstop Royce Lewis.
McKay’s future could be as a pitcher or a first baseman, with the potential for success virtually equal at this point. It should be obvious, but the Rays are not closing the door on either option for their top pick.
McKay has started 16 games on the mound for Louisville so far this season, with a 10-3 record, a 2.34 ERA and a 140:33 K/BB ratio over 104 innings. As a hitter, he has a .343/.464/.657 slash-line with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. He has won the John Olerud Award as the country’s top two-way player in each of his three collegiate seasons. The Cardinals (52-10) will take on Texas A&M (41-21) in the College World Series on Sunday afternoon, and McKay will be a prominent player in both of his roles for as long as the Cardinals go in the tournament,
McKay didn’t seem too thrilled when MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced him as simply a first baseman on Monday night. A mix of falling to No. 4 and wanting to keep pitching after the College World Series may have been in play, but it was an odd look to say the least.
McKay could become the first high level two-way player in the big leagues since Babe Ruth. But it’s far more likely his future is as a pitcher OR a first baseman, and the Rays are making the right move to keep both options wide open at such an early stage.