JFtC 2019 Blue Jays Top Prospects # 17 – Billy McKinney

 

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.

 

 

Standard Batting
Year Tm Lg G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Awards
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
2018 TOT AL 38 132 14 30 7 0 6 13 11 33 .252 .318 .462 .780
2018 NYY AL 2 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500
2018 TOR AL 36 128 14 29 7 0 6 13 11 32 .252 .320 .470 .790
1 Yr 1 Yr 1 Yr 38 132 14 30 7 0 6 13 11 33 .252 .318 .462 .780
162 162 162 162 563 60 128 30 0 26 55 47 141 .252 .318 .462 .780
NYY NYY NYY 2 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500
TOR TOR TOR 36 128 14 29 7 0 6 13 11 32 .252 .320 .470 .790
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/20/2019.

 

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.

 

 

 


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Srikant Kabse

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.