Brendan McKay, at the time I type this, is projected as the player that will go #1 overall in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft according to multiple sources. The most recent mock drafts at Baseball America and MLB Pipeline have him going #1 overall to the Minnesota Twins.
Coming out of high school he was drafted in the 34th round by San Diego. The left handed pitcher chose to go to Louisville and play for the Cardinals. He’s spent all three years playing both sides of the ball. When he’s not pitching he’s played in the field, mostly at 1st base. McKay has been very good, since day one, on both sides.
At the plate he’s hit .338/.441/.542 in his career, though he’s at .390/.511/.747 this season. Despite him absolutely killing the baseball as a first baseman a large majority of front offices believe his future lies on the mound.
In 10 starts he’s thrown 67.0 innings for Louisville in 2017. Over that time he’s posted a 2.15 ERA with just 40 hits allowed, walked 16 batters and he’s struck out 95 hitters. Let’s take a look at all of his pitching numbers from his career at Louisville.
The numbers are outstanding, and they’ve been even better in 2016. He’s showing the lowest walk rate of his career as well as his highest strikeout rate of his career. That has also come with a low ERA, which would be expected given his peripherals.
Brendan McKay certainly passes the performance test. But let’s dive into his scouting report to see what that says.
Brendan McKay Scouting Report
Fastball | The pitch works in the low 90’s right now, though some believe if he focuses on pitching full time that he may be able to add a little velocity.
Curveball | A potential plus pitch at the highest level, it’s his best offering. It’s got good 11-5 action.
Change Up | His third offering is one he doesn’t use as often, but it’s shown improvement as a junior and is an average offering now.
From a pure stuff standpoint, Brendan McKay simply doesn’t sound like a typical Top 5 overall draft pick. His fastball, while fine, isn’t a world beater when it comes to velocity. He relies on some movement and control with the pitch.
Brendan McKay does stand out in a few other ways, though. While he’s (likely) limited to first base on the other side of the ball, what he’s done with the bat speaks to his athleticism. He’ll likely provide significant value with his bat as a pitcher, if he winds up on a National League team. His pitchability is constantly praised as a huge strength, too.
Entering the year if you had given me the profile for Brendan McKay and said he would be one of the top two players in the draft, I would have called you crazy. The profile just doesn’t fit. It’s more of a guy taken in the teens when looking at pure stuff. There’s a lot of talent there, but the upside just doesn’t look like the top college player in baseball. When you are counting on someone being able to get big time command to get players out at the big league level, that’s always a concern. That’s not to say McKay can’t be a solid pitcher without it, but no one is going to confuse his pure stuff with a handful of other pitchers in the draft who won’t need to be pinpoint accurate to head the top of a rotation.
What Brendan McKay does have working for him though, or so it would seem, is the lack of much risk. He seems to be a very safe pick. The stuff is good enough to be a big league starter even if he doesn’t develop great command. Think of him as a bigger, left handed version of Mike Leake. It’s not sexy, but it’s quite valuable. If the command does come, then you could be looking at something even better.
For other 2017 Draft Scouting Report profiles, click here.