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Report: Rays Call Up No. 2 Prospect Brendan McKay; Will Make MLB Debut Saturday

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

FILE - In this June 11, 2016, file photo, Louisville pitcher Brendan McKay throws against UC Santa Barbara during an NCAA college baseball tournament super regional game in Louisville Ky. The phrase “total package,” as applied to a baseball player or any other athlete, is often thrown around too casually. But there really is no other way to describe Louisville’s Brendan McKay. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, file)
Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Rays are calling up pitcher Brendan McKay to make his major league debut Saturday against the Texas Rangers, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft is the second-ranked prospect in Tampa Bay's system and the No. 23 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com.

McKay has quickly worked his way through the minor leagues in the two years since he was drafted fourth overall out of Louisville. After spending last year between rookie ball, Single-A and High-A, he started the 2019 campaign at Double-A before quickly earning a promotion to Triple-A.

The southpaw is 6-0 with a 1.22 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP in 13 total appearances (including 11 starts) this season, striking out 88 hitters in 66.2 innings. He has not allowed more than three runs or five hits in any start this season, and he has made it through seven outings without surrendering an earned run.

McKay has proved to be more than ready for Triple-A, going 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP in five games at the top level of the minor leagues.

And while he has dominated on the mound, he has also been given the opportunity to be a two-way player after a standout career at the plate during his time at Louisville. A scout told The Athletic's Josh Tolentino that his club "definitely looked at [McKay] as a hitter" because he "can really hit."

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Thus far, though, his bat has not been on the same level as his arm, as he is hitting .216/.348/.356 as a pro. He is, however, hitting .265 with four home runs, two doubles and 10 RBI in 60 plate appearances as a designated hitter at Triple-A this year.

Giving up playing in the field at first base wasn't easy, but McKay acknowledged that it has helped him focus on his biggest responsibilities.

"It's given me a lot more time to focus on just doing hitting and pitching stuff, getting into a throwing program and working with our hitting coaches," McKay told Tolentino in May. "It's helped out a lot. You feel a little bit more fresh each game, each series. You're not really run down from playing first, pitching and hitting. You have less to worry about."

It's not clear how many at-bats McKay might see at the big league level when he gets called up. 

McKay has earned the promotion by impressing at every level of the minors. With Thursday's game going 18 innings, the Rays could use a quality outing of the left-hander. And if he gives them one, he could have the opportunity to stick around.

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