Though the teams selecting behind the Twins have thought for a couple of weeks that they're leaning toward Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright, Louisville two-way star Brendan McKay now appears to be the favorite to go No. 1 overall when the MLB Draft begins on Monday.The Twins have yet to make
Though the teams selecting behind the Twins have thought for a couple of weeks that they're leaning toward Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright, Louisville two-way star Brendan McKay now appears to be the favorite to go No. 1 overall when the MLB Draft begins on Monday.
The Twins have yet to make a final decision and may not before Monday. They're considering McKay, Wright, California high school right-hander Hunter Greene, North Carolina prep lefty MacKenzie Gore and California high school shortstop/outfielder Royce Lewis. Gore met with the team at Target Field on Thursday, and Greene worked out for the club at Target Field on Friday.
:: 2017 MLB Draft coverage ::
The Reds are locked in on Greene at No. 2. If Minnesota were to take Greene, Cincinnati would select McKay. The Rays (No. 4) and Braves (No. 5) are believed to have McKay at the top of their Draft boards in the event he gets that far.
Wright, whom we projected as the No. 1 overall pick in our latest first-round projection on Thursday, could last longer than initially expected. He might not quite be the best prospect available in the eyes of the Padres (No. 3), Rays or Braves, depending on how the Draft unfolds.
After Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, McKay is the second-best two-way prospect in Draft history. The first baseman/left-hander would be a top-five pick at either of his positions -- and there's still no consensus among clubs as to where he has the brighter future.
The Twins, Reds, and Padres like McKay more as a projected No. 2 starter, while the Rays and Braves think he has more upside as a potential .300 hitter with 20 homers per season. Both American League clubs have indicated that they could give him a chance to both hit and pitch, at least early in his career.
Regardless of who drafts him, McKay could play both ways in his pro debut. He figures to end Louisville's season with around 110 innings, so even a team that wanted him to pitch would limit him to short stints and 15 or so innings in the Minors this summer. There's no reason not to let him play some first base and DH on the days he doesn't take the mound, giving his pro team more information to help decide his future.
Winner of the John Olerud Award as college baseball's best two-way player as both a freshman and a sophomore, McKay should win it again in 2017 and also could sweep all the major Player of the Year honors. He's batting .351/.473/.673 with 17 homers, 56 RBIs and more walks (45) than strikeouts (35). On the mound, he's 9-3 with a 2.31 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 97 1/3 innings.
McKay went 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch Friday as Louisville beat Kentucky 5-2 in the opener of a three-game NCAA super-regional playoff. He'll start on the mound Saturday as the Cardinals try to clinch a trip to the College World Series.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.