Most draft experts expected the Tampa Bay Rays to choose University of Louisville two-way player Brendan McKay in the first round if he was still available. When it was Tampa Bay’s turn to select with the fourth overall pick, McKay was still there and Tampa Bay quickly scooped him up.
He has unique two-way talent. In 2017, he hit .343 with 17 home runs and drove in 56 runs. As a pitcher, he won 10 games, lost three and sported a 2.34 earned run average. In addition, he struck out 140 batters and walked 33 in 104 innings pitched.
When not on the mound, McKay is a first baseman, which is reportedly where the Rays plan to deploy him. With that being the case, he will have one more pitching assignment ahead. Louisville will play in the College World Series that begins Saturday.
McKay, a junior, is a highly decorated player. He was named National Player of the Year, by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper. McKay is also a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy as the nation’s best college player.
The Louisville Courier-Journal, citing MLB.com analyst Jim Callis, reports McKay turned down an offer from the Minnesota Twins to be the number one overall pick in the draft. Minnesota moved on to select California high school shortstop Royce Lewis.
Stuart Sternberg and the Rays had better be prepared to pay up. Despite being the fourth pick, Callis tweets “don’t be surprised if (McKay) lands highest bonus in @MLBDraft” beating the record of more than $6.7 million hauled in by current Chicago Cub superstar Kris Bryant.
The selection of McKay marks the third time in the last 10 years the Rays have selected a college player with a top-five pick. The other two were Evan Longoria and David Price.