In 2019, the Toronto Blue Jays will test their many young players, but it is unclear where Billy McKinney fits in to all of this
The Toronto Blue Jays brought Billy McKinney over in the trade that sent J.A. Happ to the Evil Empire. McKinney was joined by Brandon Drury, who might have an interesting road ahead to see if he fits into the short or long term plans of the Blue Jays. The same can actually be said for McKinny, the 2013 23rd overall pick. Since his first round selection, he has bounced around, but is Toronto where he will finally break through?
McKinney currently finds himself ranked as the Blue Jays 18th best prospect by MLB Pipeline. At the age of 23, he saw his first taste of big league playing time and put up some interesting numbers. He slashed .252/.320/.420, which doesn’t really tell the interesting part. In his 36 games for the Blue Jays, he hit 6 long balls and drove in 13. He also chipped in 7 doubles. Obviously, the small sample size caveat applies, but a .210 ISO is definitely something to take note of. He hits the ball hard and is able to put it in the air, which is a good thing because his HR/FB rate is 17.6%. Obviously, more time is needed to see if this is for real, but if it is…look out! For what it is worth, there is belief that McKinney can turn into a .280, 20 HR hitter at the big league level.
So where does that leave him moving forward? The Blue Jays outfield situation is more complicated than the infield after some offseason moves. The starting group looks to be Kevin Pillar (CF), Randal Grichuk (RF), Teoscar Hernandez (LF) with a 4th outfielder from a group that includes Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith Jr.and one supposes Dalton Pompey. A lot can happen between now and Opening Day, and McKinney has shown himself, so he has to fit in in here somewhere. There are those who would like to see him in LF, bumping Hernandez to DH duties, which would be easier if Kendrys Morales weren’t cemented in that spot.
Others might say that McKinney was a September call up who showed promise, but he doesn’t really figure into things moving forward. Maybe there is something to that. Maybe. Except it doesn’t exactly fit with something Blue Jays President, Mark Shapiro said to Jays From the Couch. When talking about building a team culture, Shapiro mentioned that the club sent 12 players, one of whom was McKinney, to Fort Benning, a US Army Rangers facility to learn about the ‘team approach’. The club is looking to groom young leaders and they see Billy McKinney as one. It could mean nothing, but why would an organization make that kind of an effort if they do not see a future with the young outfielder? It doesn’t make sense.
So, perhaps, McKinney does have a spot on this club in the coming years. It is next to impossible to predict the future, but it would make sense. He has the potential to be an effective bat, one that can add some power in AL East ballparks. And, when you look at the outfield situation, it is not difficult to envision scenarios where some of those ahead of him are cleared in some fashion. It wouldn’t surprise to see Pillar dealt either this winter, of during the season. It wouldn’t surprise to see someone hurt. It also wouldn’t surprise to see the club value McKinney over a guy like Smith Jr, who they may see as a 4th outfielder, rather than a starter.
Billy McKinney looks to be developing into a potentially solid hitter. He brings average, but not great, defense. Right now, it is not exactly clear how the club views him moving forward. All things considered, with coaching and some time, perhaps he will find himself smack in the middle of the Blue Jays future plans. Time will tell.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
HEAD ON OVER TO THE JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS STORE AND GET SOME GREAT SWAG THAT YOU WILL LOOK GREAT IN AND YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT.
YOU CAN ALSO HEAD TO OUR JAYS FROM THE COUCH VS ALS FUNDRAISING PAGE TO MAKE A TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATION DIRECTLY TO ALS CANADA.
THANK YOU FOR VISITING JAYS FROM THE COUCH! CHECK US OUT ON TWITTER @JAYSFROMCOUCH AND INSTAGRAM. LIKE US FACEBOOK. BE SURE TO CATCH THE LATEST FROM JAYS FROM THE COUCH RADIO AND SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL!
Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.