JFtC 2019 Blue Jays Top Prospects list continues with #17, OF, Billy McKinney
Billy McKinney was acquired by the Blue Jays, along with infielder Brandon Drury, in the July 26 trade that sent J.A. Happ to the New York Yankees. It was one of eight trades the team made during the 2018 season as they began to transition into a rebuilding phase.
McKinney was originally a 1st round pick, 24th overall, by the Oakland A’s in 2013. While he was never considered a top prospect, he did reach Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list once (#83 prior to 2015), and was a part of two other high profile July trades prior to joining the Blue Jays in 2018.
He was first traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2014 in a trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s, and then two years later was one of the four players sent to the Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade.
|2013||OAK-min||Rk,A-||55||243||36||70||9||3||3||26||20||33||.326||.387||.437||.824||ATH,VMT · ARIZ,NYPL|
|2014||OAK-CHC-min||A+||126||543||72||123||24||6||11||69||61||100||.264||.354||.412||.766||STK,DYT · CALL,FLOR|
|2015||CHC-min||AA,A+||106||433||48||113||31||3||7||64||44||60||.300||.371||.454||.825||KNX,MYR · SOUL,CARL|
|2016||CHC-NYY-min||AA||123||491||52||105||19||4||4||44||59||97||.246||.342||.338||.680||KNX,TRE · SOUL,EL|
|2017||NYY-min||AA,AAA||124||500||66||122||29||7||16||64||39||94||.277||.338||.483||.821||TRE,SWB · EL,IL|
|2018||NYY-TOR-min||AAA,AA,A+||84||339||40||67||13||7||16||43||36||78||.222||.307||.470||.777||SWB,BFL,TRE,TAM · IL,EL,FLOR|
|1 Yr||1 Yr||1 Yr||38||132||14||30||7||0||6||13||11||33||.252||.318||.462||.780|
Now in his fourth organization in five years, the 24-year old finds himself with a great chance for playing time on a rebuilding Blue Jays team.
McKinney is a left-handed bat who over the last few years has started to develop more of a power hitting profile. He hit 22 home runs in 2018 between AAA and MLB, and has typically hit a high percentage of line drives and fly balls throughout his minor league career. His launch angle in his brief 2018 run in the Majors was a strong 18.7, which is a good sign, but exit velocity numbers need to improve (88.8).
One issue that McKinney might run into barring some development is his ability to hit left-handed pitching.
In 2018, he hit .240/.320/.500 in the minors against RHP, and .276/.339/.490 against them in 109 MLB plate appearances. Those numbers were dramatically worse against LHP, as he hit .209/.287/.395 against them in the minors and .143/.217/.333 in only 23 plate appearances in the big leagues.
The caveat with splits like this is always sample size, as he he hit LHP well in 2017 and not so much in 2016, so too early to look at him strictly as a platoon bat, but early indications are that is where he might end up.
Defensively, McKinney was valued as a negative defensive player in his brief 2018 stint, with a -4 DRS and -3.5 UZR in 270 innings between left field and right field. It appears his best position will be left field long-term, although the Yankees played him at first base as well, so he may have some defensive value there if necessary.
Steamer projects a 101 wRC+ from him in 2019, while both Steamer and ZIPS are projecting a 0.8 WAR. He figures to get playing time, but there is a bit of a glut in the outfield right now with Kevin Pillar, Randal Grichuk, and Teoscar Hernandez likely to be used in the outfield as well, barring a trade. McKinney does have options left, so the team could consider starting him in AAA before needing him during the season, but it is unclear whether that is in the plans.
McKinney looks like he could be a serviceable big league platoon outfielder with power. That certainly has value. How much value depends on whether his bat can take a step forward.
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!
Srikant Kabse is a long time baseball fan, accountant, and writer. He currently resides in New Jersey, but grew up in Scarborough Ontario where his love for the sport and for the Blue Jays began as a child. Aside from baseball, Srikant’s interests include fitness, basketball, and traveling.