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The Scouting Skinny: Brendan McKay

Twins Daily is very happy to announce that Jeremy Nygaard will be providing occasional insider news/rumors on the Twins deliberations in the upcoming MLB Draft. The first was last Friday which we're copying below. But that won't often be the case; to be sure to get them sign up for the Twins Daily email list at the bottom of this story or in the upper-right hand corner of this page.

As most national media publications have started to release their mock drafts, there’s been a lot of momentum in the direction of Brendan McKay from Louisville. That’s probably a fair place to be five weeks from the draft, but I’ve been told that the organization has “cast a wide net” in their search for the top overall selection. College first baseman Pavin Smith of Virginia and prep right-handed hurler Shane Baz of Texas remain in consideration as well as other prominent names such as Hunter Greene, Royce Lewis and Kyle Wright.
McKay is an interesting case. At the beginning of the season, the preference for McKay was as a left-handed pitcher. A “bigger Ted Lilly” one scout called him, saying he’d be, at worst, a “solid #3” for a long time. McKay, who should win his third straight John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, has done nothing but raise expectations this season. As a pitcher, he’s thrown 67.0 innings and struck out 95. Opponents have hit only .172 and his WHIP is 0.84. While other top college throwers came out of the gates slowly, McKay had performed at a very high level all season until giving up nine earned runs over his last two starts.

How much should be made of those two starts? McKay has still struck out more than a batter an inning and given up less than a hit and walk per inning pitched. If it’s me - and nothing alarming has happened with his velocity or delivery, and by all accounts, it hasn’t - I’m putting very little stock into two less-than-ideal starts.

The thing that makes McKay so intriguing is that along with being arguably the best pitcher in college baseball, he is also arguably the best hitter in college baseball. Everyone knew he could hit - he hit .326 for the Collegiate National Team last summer and hit over .300 in both seasons at Louisville - but he took it to another level this spring. Currently slashing .390/.511/.747 (1.258), McKay has evaluators reconsidering what his long-term positional home should be.

Sorry guys, it won’t be as a two-way player. But you’re not getting this exclusive newsletter in your email to tell you that. You’ve read national media that says they’d take McKay as a first baseman. Others say pitcher.

It’s conceivable that the Twins select Brendan McKay next month as a “pitcher/first baseman” and truly mean it. You can bump McKay up as a pitcher because if that doesn’t work, he can be a big-league hitter. You can bump McKay up as a hitter because if that doesn’t work, he can be a big-league pitcher. Or as one Twins source told me, it’s “kind of like having a chip on red and black.”

The Twins have long had a philosophy of trying to take the best player regardless of position. This is a case where Brendan McKay might just be the best player in the draft regardless of his position. If that’s what the organization truly decides, they will take Brendan McKay, best player available, and figure out the rest later.

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67 Comments

While the Twins have a plethora of 1B types, McKay would fit the the Twins timeline better either as a pitcher or hitter. Greene is tempting, but a huge role of the dice, and development might cause him to miss the prime of this teams postion players. (Unless the team changes its stance on signing their own FA) High velocity high school arms like Greene are scary, and if he ends up hurt, he is at least 5 years from TF, if at all. As of this draft, the Twins don't seem to have a farm system that looks to support a long term run of contention.
    • glunn and d-mac like this

 

While the Twins have a plethora of 1B types, McKay would fit the the Twins timeline better either as a pitcher or hitter. Greene is tempting, but a huge role of the dice, and development might cause him to miss the prime of this teams postion players. (Unless the team changes its stance on signing their own FA) High velocity high school arms like Greene are scary, and if he ends up hurt, he is at least 5 years from TF, if at all. As of this draft, the Twins don't seem to have a farm system that looks to support a long term run of contention.

I have to disagree with the above.The only reason the Twins farm system is only at a mid rank position is that most of the talent is further away.Except for some pitchers there is very little talent at Rochester and only at little more at Chattanooga

Granite, Park, and Gordon(maybe Vielma) are the only position players on these teams, I feel we will see for more that a cup of coffee in Minnesota.I would love to be wrong, but this is how I see it. .

    • glunn likes this
Close to MLB ready is a terrible reason to draft a player, IMO.
We've seen plenty of examples from the Twins alone of close to MLB ready picks that through injury or ineffectiveness end up taking just as long to get here.
    • twinssouth, Vanimal46, operation mindcrime and 1 other like this

 

I have to disagree with the above.The only reason the Twins farm system is only at a mid rank position is that most of the talent is further away.Except for some pitchers there is very little talent at Rochester and only at little more at Chattanooga

Granite, Park, and Gordon(maybe Vielma) are the only position players on these teams, I feel we will see for more that a cup of coffee in Minnesota.I would love to be wrong, but this is how I see it. .

Lamonte Wade says hello.

    • Tibs, Taildragger8791, rghrbek and 3 others like this

I know nothing about McKay other than what Jeremy has said. I don't think it would be wise to draft a pitcher #1 overall who doesn't have legit ace potential. Is one spring enough to go from at least solid #3 to legit ace potential?

 

If he is the #1 pick then I would rather it be as a hitter. It is definitely an interesting situation.

    • IaFan1 likes this

 

I know nothing about McKay other than what Jeremy has said. I don't think it would be wise to draft a pitcher #1 overall who doesn't have legit ace potential. Is one spring enough to go from at least solid #3 to legit ace potential?

 

If he is the #1 pick then I would rather it be as a hitter. It is definitely an interesting situation.

 

I don't necessarily want McKay, but a #3 isn't his ceiling. He could certainly be better.

 

There isn't a surefire ace in the draft, and there isn't an obvious bat to take instead. Greene has the highest upside, but there are obvious risks.

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108Stitches
May 08 2017 09:18 AM
Greene has an ego the size of Texas and with that velo at such a young age is almost certainly going to have TJ sooner than later. Young bodies simply can't handle that hard of throwing without damage. This kid wouldn't see a big league uniform for 4 years at least. Risk isn't worth the reward. Ask teammates how he really is. He scrubbed his twitter of all the Lavar Ball esque things he used to say and clearly has a PR rep having him do all the expected good boy routine. Yes I know he's a kid. But give a kid constant adulation and millions of dollars and 9 times out of ten you're going to create an ego monster and clubhouse cancer

 

Greene has an ego the size of Texas and with that velo at such a young age is almost certainly going to have TJ sooner than later. Young bodies simply can't handle that hard of throwing without damage. This kid wouldn't see a big league uniform for 4 years at least. Risk isn't worth the reward. Ask teammates how he really is. He scrubbed his twitter of all the Lavar Ball esque things he used to say and clearly has a PR rep having him do all the expected good boy routine. Yes I know he's a kid. But give a kid constant adulation and millions of dollars and 9 times out of ten you're going to create an ego monster and clubhouse cancer

 

Any actual data on that 9 out of 10 thing? 

 

HS guys get PAID in teh major league draft every single year.

    • Seth Stohs and wagwan like this

I'm leaning against Greene and for the college arms - McKay or Wright - but his attitude has nothing to do with it.  I'm sure Greene and Buxton and Mauer and any other player good enough to go 1/1 or thereabouts out of high school has a HUGE ego. Some hide it, others don't. But what I've read of Greene's work ethic (and Jordon Adell's as well) is really exciting. I think, barring injury, he'll be a very good player. But I'd go a bit safer with the college arm and take some upside HS arms later.

    • Mike Sixel and MN_ExPat like this
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108Stitches
May 08 2017 10:10 AM
High school position players and pitchers are very different. And no my 9/10 is anecdotal based on personal knowledge and experience. But it doesn't take an MIT study to see what fame and fortune do to kids.

 

High school position players and pitchers are very different. And no my 9/10 is anecdotal based on personal knowledge and experience. But it doesn't take an MIT study to see what fame and fortune do to kids.

 

so being 2-3 years older makes it not happen?

    • Seth Stohs and MN_ExPat like this

Sure, but Josh Beckett was arguably the biggest ass on the planet when he went #2 overall.  The only way attitude hurts is if it makes the player not listen to coaching or creates a bad work ethic.  If those two issues are ok - and every article I've read about Greene suggest this wouldn't be a problem - you ignore attitude concerns.

 

Compare Greene with Seth Romero, arguably the second best lefty in the college group.  Romero's make-up issues - rumors of drug use, bad conditioning and not listening to coaches - might very well drop him out of the first round. Those are problems.  If Greene or McKay or Wright don't check those boxes, you don't worry.

    • wagwan, Mike Sixel and MN_ExPat like this
If his upside is really #3 starter I go with Greene. You can't use the first overall pick for a mid rotation starter.
    • IaFan1 likes this

If his upside is really #3 starter I go with Greene. You can't use the first overall pick for a mid rotation starter.

I read "at worst, a solid #3 for a long time." I'll take a floor of #3 all day. Noting, of course that the real floor is out of baseball and that the high schooler is much more likely to wash out than the guy who's been doing it at a high level for three years.

I get the whole upside thing, but I've never seen a credible source say that McKay or Wright couldn't be top of the rotation guys. Greene is much scarier on the low end of his possible outcomes than he is attractive on the high end.
    • Mike Frasier Law, Tibs, Dman and 2 others like this

 

I don't necessarily want McKay, but a #3 isn't his ceiling. He could certainly be better.

 

There isn't a surefire ace in the draft, and there isn't an obvious bat to take instead. Greene has the highest upside, but there are obvious risks.

Yeah I wasn't trying to imply that #3 is his ceiling. When I read "bigger version of Ted Lilly" I don't think of #1 pick in the draft. Just a little concerned with that, but like I said, I know nothing other than what I have read on this site.

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Jeremy Nygaard
May 08 2017 12:03 PM

Good talk here.

 

If Greene doesn't go #1, it will have very little to do with his perceived attitude. Character-type stuff is what removes guys from the draft board. That's not happening - from all accounts Greene is a very mature, high-character guy. But, yeah, he does have people around helping him make good decisions. Hard to blame him for that. He also has the drive to be the absolute best. That probably rubs people the wrong way. But you can't teach a kid to have that drive.

 

Obviously the floor of all players is out of baseball before making the big leagues. But those are things that you just can't account for happening. Wimmers was a high-floor guy, Gibson was a high-floor guy, Jay is a high-floor guy. You can't account for injuries. And all have dealt with them.

 

If McKay can stay healthy, he's a #3 starter (floor) with the potential to be better. 

 

 

    • glunn, gunnarthor and MN_ExPat like this

 

While the Twins have a plethora of 1B types, McKay would fit the the Twins timeline better either as a pitcher or hitter. Greene is tempting, but a huge role of the dice, and development might cause him to miss the prime of this teams postion players. (Unless the team changes its stance on signing their own FA) High velocity high school arms like Greene are scary, and if he ends up hurt, he is at least 5 years from TF, if at all. As of this draft, the Twins don't seem to have a farm system that looks to support a long term run of contention.

 

Bingo!  My thoughts too. Buxton and Sano  could be approaching free agency by the time Greene gets to the "bigs". At least McKay (or Wright) could make it on a more aggressive timeline.

Who are we as fans to scoff at the idea of drafting a pitcher who has #3 starter as his floor? How many of those types of pitchers do we have in our system right now?

I have to admit, I'm afraid that if we don't take Greene we will be missing out on a superstar. My concern is if he can make it to the show in 2-3 years to be an asset to the current young core? Sounds like McKay could be.
    • glunn and Taildragger8791 like this

What would be the easier transition after a couple years - Switching from pitching to hitting, or...hitting to pitching? Seems to me the former. If KcKay failed (gulp) at pitching after a couple years in the minors it would be easier to pick up the bat and continue your career.

Interesting thought... if Kohl Stewart was a dual threat like McKay, would he have been switched to a position player by now? Or still too soon?

    • jsteve96 likes this

 

Interesting thought... if Kohl Stewart was a dual threat like McKay, would he have been switched to a position player by now? Or still too soon?

 

Well, he'd been fairly successful up until now, and is only 22. Why would they have moved him? Way too soon.

    • Seth Stohs, HitInAPinch and MN_ExPat like this

I don't really know why, but Greene scares me. No doubt he has the highest potential, but I have to say I've been unimpressed with everything besides his velocity in all the videos I've watched. I don't think he has a remotely usable secondary pitch as a pro, yet. He also doesn't have the #'s I'd expect from a high-schooler with that velocity, I don't know, they just seem 'meh' for a guy with this much hype (he also fell off as a hitter this year).

 

I'm more on the Mckay bandwagon, but he also might not be the college SP with the highest upside.

    • glunn, Thrylos, diehardtwinsfan and 3 others like this

 

What would be the easier transition after a couple years - Switching from pitching to hitting, or...hitting to pitching? Seems to me the former. If KcKay failed (gulp) at pitching after a couple years in the minors it would be easier to pick up the bat and continue your career.

It's generally considered that hitting to pitching would be much easier.  You can take a long time off the mound and come back to it successfully (Matt Bush being a recent example), but I'm not sure if you can put down the bat for years and come back so easily.  Rick Ankiel did it, but just barely -- in the NL, he was getting reps at the plate throughout, and he had a pretty severe drop-off on the mound that prompted the switch.

    • glunn likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
May 08 2017 01:15 PM

 


Sorry guys, it won’t be as a two-way player. But you’re not getting this exclusive newsletter in your email to tell you that.
 

 

John, I'm curious if this is info you've gotten from the front office or just an opinion.While I share an opinion that this is likely true, I personally think the front office would be wise to experiment with it...

 

But that said, I'm very curious if this is the feel you've gotten from taking to Falvey and Levine.

    • glunn likes this

 

John, I'm curious if this is info you've gotten from the front office or just an opinion.While I share an opinion that this is likely true, I personally think the front office would be wise to experiment with it...

 

But that said, I'm very curious if this is the feel you've gotten from taking to Falvey and Levine.

 

disagree. Pitchers have routines on off days, and messing with those routines is not setting McKay up to be the most successful he can be.

    • Mike Frasier Law, Oldgoat_MN and HitInAPinch like this

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