Should McKay, Greene play both ways?

August 8th, 2017

The following is an excerpt from Sunday's Top 100 Prospects special on MLB Network, in which MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo and MLB Network's Greg Amsinger and Harold Reynolds discuss a pair of two-way players taken at the top of the 2017 Draft: Rays' No. 3 prospect Brendan McKay and Reds' No. 2 prospect Hunter Greene. To listen to the show in its entirety, go to the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.

Callis: I just like the guys I like, and one of the guys I like is Brendan McKay. Talk about a guy with a good curveball, he's got a plus curveball, he's got a consistent low-90s fastball, tired a little bit at the end of the college season, throws a lot of strikes, but the Rays like him more as a hitter. We talked about this guy a lot leading up to the Draft, the most accomplished two-way player in college baseball history. Won the John Olerud Award all three years, won the Golden Spikes Award this year as well. In addition to the pitching prowess, the guy's a gifted hitter, the power's coming, he has a chance to be a solid first baseman, and I still think there's a split on what this guy will be exactly. The first three teams in the Draft all considered Brendan McKay, would have taken him as a pitcher, saw him as a potential No. 2 starter. The Rays and Braves liked him as a hitter. The Rays are going to let him do both for now. It will be very interesting to see how long that goes on.

Reynolds: Jim, what's the plan? He's going to do both, how long are they going to let him do that? Particularly, just this summer?

Callis: I think it's still be TBA. I think it could be just this summer, because he's just getting his feet wet. He wasn't going to pitch a ton even if they drafted him as a pitcher. He pitched a lot for Louisville when they went to the College World Series. Personally, you could look at it two ways. You could look at a guy who has a chance at being good doing two things, or a guy who's potentially great, making a bigger impact doing one. I think it's so hard to be very good or a star big leaguer doing one, that I wouldn't mess around. I would have him focus on whatever you think he does best. The Rays think that's a hitter.

Amsinger: That's a waste. What if he wants to do it? If he wants to do both, let him do it. We're ready for it.

Callis: But here's the question: let's say as a hitter, he's a .300 hitter, 20-25 home runs. But by doing both, he can't focus on either, you're making him a .275, 15-home run guy and instead of being a No. 2 starter, he's more of a No. 4, and his velocity did drop at the end of the season, and the college season's shorter than the pro season.

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Reynolds: We overrate pitching. Oh, I've got to concentrate on it 24 hours a day, every day of the week. Man, throw the ball on the fifth day and hit the other days.

Mayo: Says the guy who's never thrown an inning ever (laughter).

Reynolds: I threw in Little League.

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Amsinger: Hunter Greene, we know he's not going to throw a ton, but you've got to put him somewhere on this list. Would somebody say this is too high, too much of an aggressive ranking?

Mayo: He was No. 1 on our talent rankings, so to have him be the highest-ranked draftee makes a lot of sense. Obviously, we're not doing it based on what he's done now. He's really just getting started, hasn't played a lot. He's actually going to hit for a little while first, and we're not going to see him pitch in professional ball for a little while, until maybe at the end of the summer or into instrucs, but he's going to pitch long-term. This isn't a Brendan McKay kind of conversation, although I know Harold would love to see him play shortstop, he's a really good infielder. But triple digits, breaking ball, I think all the stuff is there. A lot of raw tools to work with Hunter Greene.