BBB 2017 Top Prospect Countdown #19: Billy McKinney

While Gleyber Torres and Justus Sheffield got all the attention in the Aroldis Chapman blockbuster trade this past summer, outfielder Billy McKinney was an interesting fourth piece. McKinney has finished as high as #88 on MLB.com’s prospect list and #85 on Baseball America’s top prospect list. Since his stock dropped significantly in 2016, the Yankees were able to buy low and roll the dice.

Photo Credit: Gregg Slaboda

 Breakdown:

At 6’1” and 205 pounds, left handed outfielder Billy McKinney was the 24th overall pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2013 out of Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas. A year later, McKinney was traded along with shortstop Addison Russell and pitcher Dan Straily to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.

McKinney has put up some decent numbers over his minor league career, including his 2015 season when he batted .300 with seven home runs and 64 RBIs in 106 games across High A and Double A. McKinney started off the 2016 season with the Cubs’ Double A team where he posted a .252 batting average to go along with one home run and 31 RBIs across 88 games. After the trade, McKinney appeared in 35 games for Double A Trenton where he batted .234 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. Overall McKinney batted .246 with four home runs and 44 RBIs in 123 Double A games.

McKinney has a very short, compact swing that generates very good contact power but also has good bat control through the zone. Prior to the 2016 season, McKinney displayed an ability to handle tough breaking pitches inside and outside. He’s also done well driving pitches that are hung in the zone, but 2016 has been a struggle on both fronts. McKinney might be best fitted as either a leadoff hitter or someone who hits at the bottom of the lineup despite his lack of speed (18 for 30 on stolen base attempts in the minor leagues).

Projection:

McKinney was just recently given a non-roster invite to Spring Training, but don’t look much into it as it is only to replace Tyler Austin after he broke his foot in batting practice. McKinney may get a few at bats this spring, but playing time will likely be scarce. 

With a crowded outfield at both the Major League level and Triple-A, expect McKinney to start the 2017 season in Double-A Trenton. McKinney is going to have to have a bounce back season to get back on track. McKinney may be the first outfielder called up to Triple A if there is an injury or a MLB call up, but he otherwise has a lot of work to do to be considered a Major League option.


Article By: Julian Bussells
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