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.

2015 1.77 96.2 53 2 34 117 0.90
2016 2.30 109.2 89 8 42 128 1.19
2017 2.15 67.0 40 5 16 95 0.84

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.

Overall thoughts

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.

35 Responses

  1. The Duke

    I just don’t see top of the draft as a pitcher. Minimizing risk is great and all, but if you have your choice of anyone in the draft, you’d think they would want a real difference maker, and not just a guy who gives you a solid shot of not getting blown out every fifth day.

    I could see the upside as a 1B. He has the raw power, great plate discipline, and maybe the best hit tool in the draft. He’s a solid defensive 1B too. His upside is essentially Votto. When you’re being compared to MVP’s, it makes dreaming on the upside a little more palatable than being compared to a solid #3 pitcher.

    • Mjc

      I don’t think anybody is gonna compare this guy to Votto. If that was the case he would be an easy no doubt selection.

  2. donny

    Right now Mckay is working with the same velocity as Amir Garret.

    • donny

      In a good draft year, Mckay maybe a typical 9-15 pick. However this is not a good draft year, i wouldn’t think.

    • Doug Gray

      Right. But he’s not as athletic as Amir is (not that many people are). And he’s not nearly as advanced at this point either. And you also aren’t going to find anyone saying Amir Garrett’s TOR guy.

      • donny

        So if they don’t get Greene , who would you like to see the reds take a chance on ?

      • The Rage

        Plus Amir has shown he can throw up into the mid-90’s more consistently as the season progresses.

      • Doug Gray

        You’re just going to have to keep reading my reports, Donny.

  3. Redsvol

    based no what Doug, Duke, and others say about the available talent, I would lean toward Mckay. Baseball isn’t football or basketball. You have to get the guy at the top of those 2 sports’ drafts than can make your franchise. In baseball, you can have a really solid team with a bunch of players like Mike Leake. What we cannot do is “miss” at the top of the draft and get no production from the player. We’ve had some misses (Gruler, Howington, Wagner) in the first round that can’t happen this year at #2. I like a top college hitter if Mckay is gone. High school pitchers scare me!

    • donny

      High school pitchers scare me to especially the ones drafted real early, who try to live up to expectations. Me i wouldn’t compare Mckay to mike leake but that is just me what do i know. I think if you compare Mckay to leake then i think you have to compare Garrett to Leake.

      • The Duke

        If Garrett has a similar 6 years with the Reds as Leake (minus the shoplifting), i’ll be pretty happy. Garrett has more ceiling I think with his athleticism, but it could be argued Leake didn’t hit his ceiling either while still being a solid MLB pitcher.

      • donny

        But i can see how Doug compares him to mike leake, because Mckay hasn’t shown that he can maintain his fastball in the latter inn. But scouts think he will add a little more velocity and maintain his fastball better gaining more strength if he pitches full time.

      • donny

        Granted scouts are not always right, but if they are then i think your looking at a good pitcher. Its all about taking a chance on him or someone else no matter how you look at it.

  4. donny

    Rage, i haven’t seen Garrett throw above 93 except once and that was in his last start against the Pirats and it was 94. I have seen every game Amir has pitched for the Reds on fox sports Ohio. Only once have i seen him reach 94. That’s one pitch.

    • donny

      Granted Garrett’s fastball plays up more because of his height and length but i have only seen him reach 94 once. He hasn’t even reached the mid 90’s yet.

  5. DanD

    A month or so ago I got blasted for saying McCay should be picked between 8-15. Very funny . I just don’t see a lefthanded Leake being drafted that high.

  6. Arnold Ziffle

    What will those rascally Twins do at #1?? Hopefully they are crazy in love with McKay.
    You’d have to think that the draft and the pursuit of Luis Robert are on separate tracks. But they are probably intertwined at some point. If it looks as though they are out on Robert and Greene goes #1 overall, they might reach just a little for Haseley, Beck, or Adell at #2.
    Too lose out on both Robert in the IFA signings and then Greene in the draft would be a bitter pill to swallow. If that is the case then that unfolds, do the Reds seek out a wow factor at #2, or go the safe way?? McKay kind of fits both ways as a wow-factor guy and a safe play.

  7. donny

    I would love to see the reds take a hitter, because i think the organization needs more good young hitters in the minors. Plus i feel more comfortable about the pitching in the minors more than the hitters.

    I will have to live with it as a fan who ever the reds take. I can understand any decision the reds make.

  8. MK

    This is the guy I want. I like a baseball player, as a guy who is in every game has a little different mind set. Most of all the guy can pitchwith the mindset of a hitter. In addition if he is a bust as a pitcher he might be able to transition to the field.

  9. Wes

    So what is considered a “good draft class”? 2012 is the only class I see where the majority of top 10 has made it too league and the best player, seager, was passed on by 16 teams.

    The science of projecting Major League Baseball talent is bad to terrible at best. And the little bit of info you get on high schoolers- you better know what your getting into vs a guy like McCay. His floor is 10 stories higher than Greene. And the dude is a winner. That’s an intangible most don’t weigh enough.

    We should all be thrilled w McCay vs a guy high school bat even if the bat winds up a better player. Take the for sure thing!

    It se

    • Jasonp

      The chance that a first round picks that ever even pitch an inning or have 1 at bat in the majors is 50%.

      Personally I don’t think McKay is a #1 starter. If he ends up a good #2 that would still help make about every team better if they had them. I just don’t know if he will be much better than the rotation we could already have by the time he is in the majors.

      We might not end up with anyone as a #1 but we might have a rotation full of #2,#3, and a #4 starter or two. Is one more #2 going to make us a lot better. What is he ends up more like a #3. That would still be very useful to have but we should have a few of those in the rotation by then and if he is a #3 he might not be an upgrade to what we would already have.

      With the pitchers we have I would rather take a chance on someone who could be a #1 (but not guaranteed) then someone who has a great chance to at least be a #3.

      Having said all that, I think we are going to need another hitter more then another pitcher by the time our upcoming #2 draft pick gets to the MLB.

      • Wes

        Right now reds don’t have any starting pitcher that’s a 3 or better. We got a nice crop coming up and he adds depth at top to that.

        What bat do you take? What bat is worth the risk vs security.

        You can even argue that Reds farm is deep enough to take a risk at 2. But even still w that- who can u take that’s worth the risk vs having a guy who’s floor is a 4/5 starter.

      • Jasonp

        Health will always be an issue but I think we have a few #3’s now with others with a good chance as well.

        Brandon Finnegan had a 2.93 ERA in the second half of last season. I think he is at least a #3.

        Anthony DeSclafani has a 3.28 ERA last year. I would say he is at least a #3 as well. Both could have seasons some where their numbers say a #2 and I am sure a season or two where it looks more like a #4.

        Amir Garrett has had 4 quality starts in 5 total starts. He hasn’t had a lot of reps in MLB to say he will be at least a #3 but I have watched all of his MLB games so far and looks like he keeps most all of his pitches low only the one start he got hammered was the balls up in the strike zone. Having success 4 out of 5 times is very encouraging.

        But it isn’t really just those three. We have Reed, Stephenson, Romano,Gutierrez, Castillo, Santillan, Mahle, and with some others that are lower level that might show something in a year or two. That is 7 pitchers I named not in the MLB that have a chance to be a #3 or #4 or even better. If even 2 of those 7 end up being good that is a 5 man roster that McKay will have to break into. He could even be better then everyone but if he ends up a #3 then I don’t know how much an upgrade he would be to the roster.

        So as for why I would want to take a chance on a position player is that we have so many chances already to have a good starting roster from among those players. We don’t have nearly as many chances from among our position players in the minors to turn out someone that will be better then an average player.

      • The Duke

        How many world series are won with a staff of #3’s? Aces rule the postseason much more often than not.

      • Wes

        Royals just did it. You need 3 3s and then make a trade for the right piece when u got a chance.

        What you don’t ever see though, outside of Griffey or Harper, is the #1 high school bat being drafted first. Trout and seager went in second half of 1st round. Take the most for sure thing! Take McCay. You will never regret it.

        Jason I agree w those assessments and you can argue that those are low ball assessments. Ceilings are higher for some of them. So even w starting pitching depth as a strength for our farm- still go pitching.

      • The Duke

        Cueto wasn’t a 3 despite his struggles post trade, and Yordano Ventura had front of the rotation stuff but was still young. They also had one of the all time bullpens, largely because they filled it with arm talent they drafted high.

      • wes

        They had a staff full of 3’s and traded for an ace.

        So trade deadline 2019, we need an ace- who’s going to have more value on trade market- McCay or Royce Lewis?

  10. Hingle McCringleberry

    Nothing stands out about this guy beyond college. He’s just another low 90’s pitcher that the reds have plenty of. Another 2 pitch pitcher. This article is like one of many before it that will give you this grand illusion that he’s gonna pick up 3 or 4 mph on the fastball. They’ll make the mistake and draft him because the reds do stupid stuff. That’s just what they do.

    How about looking for the best pitcher, maybe a lefty, that carries 4 pitches.

  11. Mike

    My choices in order 1.Greene chance to be really special 2.Haseley seems like a Senzel type solid cant miss bat 3.Mckay see Haseley but pitcher

    • The Duke

      I think we could get Haseley at a pretty big under slot deal, whereas I bet McKay would want at least as much as Senzel got at $6.2 million (which would still be $1 million under slot, but I have dreams of floating Jo Adell down to 32 with a big bonus demand).

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      I agree but isn’t green the one who is trying to work his way to san diego? I prefer a bat to be honest.

  12. Arnold Ziffle

    Since the chink in McKay’s armor seems to be that he beat up on lower level competition and was average against the better competition. Can anyone provide the breakdown of this with McKay’s stats? How would you divide it? Conference vs. non-conference game stats? That doesn’t seem correct as some non-conference teams might be better than some of the bottom conference teams. Louisville did play 1 game series with Maryland, Cincinnati, Xavier, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Indiana, and a home and home with UK. But they also had many games against the weathervane (N,W,E,S) schools in KY and Michigan.