Player: Keaton McKinney
Drafted by: New York Mets
DOB: 1/3/1996 (Age: 18)
Height/Weight: 6'5", 220 pounds
School: Ankeny Centennial (Iowa) HS
College Commitment: Arkansas
There are a lot of two-way players in high school, but few of them come predestined to pitch in a package the way that Keaton McKinney does. He's a tall, wide-bodied right-hander who has an advanced feel for the mound.
The 18-year-old isn't a slouch with the bat. He was a star on the United States 18-and-under national team that won a gold medal in the World Cup last year. He's going to get drafted for his prowess on the mound.
If he wants to keep hitting, which there isn't any indication that's a passion of his, three years at Arkansas will be in his future.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Big, tall, broad-shouldered right-hander makes great use of his size with a deceptive delivery that helps average stuff play better; looks like a power pitcher but doesn't have the stuff to match; command/control guy, though there are flaws in the mechanics; elbow is very late to come forward, putting unnecessary pressure on the arm.
McKinney's already large frame doesn't leave him a lot of projection left; fastball is a solid-average offering, sitting 90-93 mph with good sink in the zone when he stays on top of it; pitch plays up because the ball is hard to pick up out of his hand.
Aside from the mechanics, the lack of a breaking ball is another reason that his future could be in the bullpen; arm angle is perfect for a slider, but he doesn't get around on it enough to give it the kind of tilt needed to fool advanced hitters; breaks like a curveball or slurve a lot of the time.
A knockout weapon already for McKinney, the changeup is his bread and butter; going to get swings and misses due to his arm action, which works masterfully at deceiving the hitter into believing the fastball is coming; pitch has really good late fading action once it gets close to the plate, and his feel for it is tremendous.
Has good feel for the fastball and changeup, which is good enough to get by as a starting pitcher; Michael Wacha has done it, though his changeup is much better; has to get a better feel for the breaking ball, but the control of the top two pitches is good enough to project as above-average; would play even better in a relief role.
The unusual arm action, which does help the stuff play up, hurts McKinney's ability to place the ball; fastball tends to run over the middle of the plate when trying to throw on the glove side; makes his changeup easier to resist, and the breaking ball isn't a weapon that hitters will respect, so cleaning up the arm action and spotting the heater better are obstacles in his way.
MLB Player Comparison: Lance Lynn
Given McKinney's already large frame and potential to get a little bigger, he could end up tipping the scales at 230-240 pounds. He's going to look like a workhorse starter and has two above-average pitches to use—similar in both physical appearance and style to St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn.
Projection: No. 3 starter in first-division rotation
MLB ETA: 2017
Chances of Signing: 70 percent
Anytime there are questions about a pitcher's delivery, especially if he is a high draft pick, the best advice that he can get is to take the money right now and work with professional coaches to see if they can clean it up. McKinney is hardly a lost cause and has upside, so he should end up in camp by the end of this summer.