Rays call up two-way star McKay

by Gary Shelton on June 29, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Friday, 4 a.m.

The future is shorter than you'd expect. Smaller.

Nevertheless, in these precious non-Montreal days, it is here.

Judging by the legend of Brendan McKay, you might have expected him to be a beast. Maybe 6-4. Maybe 260 pounds. After all, when you hear about a prospect coming, you expect large. You expect imposing.

But as McKay stood at his locker Friday, looking remarkably like a second baseman, it was hard to imagine him measuring up to all the hype. After all, he is a pitcher. He is a hitter. Hopefully, he can be a rare base-runner who does not get lost.

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Still, there is an old saying in baseball.

You don't have to be big.

You have to be good.

The Rays reached into the future Friday, promoting McKay for two starts -- Saturday against Texas and the following week against the Yankees. For McKay, drafted just two seasons ago, it seems like a quick rise.

"I think it's a fair wait," McKay said. "I spent about the same amount of time with each stop. You put yourself in a position to move. You try to force the team to make a move with the numbers you put up."

n 66 2/3 innings in the high minors this year, he’s got a 1.22 ERA with the same  high strikeout rate and  low home-run rate that have been a constant for him.

“You look at a young Blake," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "He got up here because of electric stuff, a lot of power. Swing and miss. Brendam goes about it a different way. His stuff is good, but he can really command the baseball. There’s a lot of pitchability there where, he might be unique that you see a guy than works the edges maybe a little bit more than what you would see from most young guys that just come up here and out-stuff you. He can really pitch."

The distinction between McKay and other top Rays' prospects is that he's a two-way player. McKay hasn't had a good season hitting, however.

"I take a lot of pride in it," McKay said. "I've done it for a lot of years. I like being on the field. It's like  your'e a kid in Little League. You're playing shortstop and then you go out and pitch or come in and hit."

Cash said the team hadn't decided on his growth as a hitter.

"Go be himself, and that was the last message that was given," Cash said. "Every pitcher is good. They get there a different way. He’s going to have his own way, and we don’t want to get in the way of that. Just go pitch and do your thing. He didn’t appear nervous. He’s a pretty quiet guy, very determined though.”

“He’s pretty special, the way he goes about his business, and it was no different when he walked in kind of business as usual. We’ve tried to give him as much information as possible, what our plans are for him going forward. I didn’t see a ton of nerves, more excitement. He probably wishes he was pitching today rather than tomorrow, but tomorrow will be here soon enough.”

McKay woudn't rip the AAA hitters he has faced, hower.

"I wouldn't say it's great step. I've been facing a lot of guys who have big-league time in AAA. They're great hitters, too. I've faced a lot of lineups that have guys with a lot of big league experience. It's just a bigger stadium with a bigger ballpark."





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