ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathaniel Lowe and Brendan McKay were named the Rays' Prospects of the Year by MLB Pipeline.McKay, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in the organization.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathaniel Lowe and Brendan McKay were named the Rays' Prospects of the Year by MLB Pipeline.
McKay, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 3 prospect in the organization.
McKay played for Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte, along with a brief stint with the Rays' Gulf Coast League team in 2018, going 5-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 19 games.
Though McKay is the organization's pitching prospect of the year, he also hits, serving as a two-way player.
He finished the year batting .214 with six homers and 39 RBIs.
"He looked fantastic on the mound," Rays general manager Chaim Bloom said. "And I think at the plate, there's a lot of underlying things -- in terms of how well he controlled the strike zone, how hard he hit the ball -- that the stat line doesn't show."
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Injuries limited McKay to 56 games in 2018.
The injuries "just curtailed the amount of time he could play," Bloom said. "I think overall, we're really encouraged. … He continued to show just an enormous amount of maturity. Just a calmness with the way he goes about his business. He has a very good idea about what he's trying to do. He's really advanced beyond his years in a lot of respects.
"Where this ends up going, I don't think we know exactly still. But we're really encouraged. Just would have liked to have had him out on the field a little bit more."
As for the answer as to whether McKay will continue to be a two-way player, Bloom responded: "Yes. He will continue to do both."
Lowe, 23, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rays' No. 13 prospect. He hit .330 with 27 home runs and 102 RBIs in 130 games at Charlotte, Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.
Between the three levels, the first baseman led the organization in home runs and RBIs.
"Coming into this year, I don't think any of us really expected him to do what he did," Bloom said. "I think we were encouraged that there was a better version of him in there than we got to see -- especially in the Florida State League. ... But to see him come back and just simplify things was more than I think we had a right to expect.
"His body, was stronger, looser; his swing was simpler. His approach was simpler and more conducive to hitting, and it unlocked the natural talent that he has.
"What an impressive season for him to blast his way through three levels. And really, at the highest level he played at this year, he still had a lot of success. It really encourages you about what he can do next year."
Bloom allowed that Lowe serves as an excellent example for others in that every player has a chance to write his own story.
"That's so important," Bloom said. "Jim Hoff, our field coordinator, likes to tell guys we have tremendous instructors here, but none of us can get you to the Major Leagues. Only you can get you to the Major Leagues."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.