It wasn't just beginner's luck for Brendan McKay.
In second Florida State League pitching appearance, Tampa Bay's No. 3 prospect allowed three hits over six innings in Class A Advanced Charlotte's 1-0 win over Fort Myers Miracle at Charlotte Sports Park on Thursday. He didn't allow a walk and struck out five.
Gameday box score
"From just a quick look, there's a lot of advanced things we can do with him," Stone Crabs pitching coach Doc Watson said following McKay's first start in the Florida State League. "Just the way he locates, the way he mixes his secondaries in. We can talk about pitch selection, reading bad swings, what hitters are trying to do, we can get a lot more into those types of conversations."
McKay (2-0) relieved Yonny Chirinos in the third inning and allowed just four baserunners. The No. 24 prospect in baseball threw 76 pitches, 54 for strikes.
The Stone Crabs were pleased with the way he mixed his pitches as he got deeper into the lineup in his first start. That's a facet of his game he improved upon with Class A Bowling Green, even with a pitch count of 85 due to his workload as a two-way player.
"You talk about balance on the mound, but it's more about balance in his pitches, how he mixes and matches, and then the composure and makeup, it's outstanding," said Watson.
The 22-year-old southpaw struck out the first batter he faced, Brandon Lopez, before allowing a single to Mark Contreras but induced a double play off the bat of Minnesota's No. 22 prospect Luis Arraez to get out of the inning.
Jaylin Davis dropped in a single, but McKay set down the next seven batters ahead of a single by Mitchell Kranson. In the seventh, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 Draft plunked 10th-ranked Lewin Diaz with a pitch, before retiring the next six, including whiffs of Contreras and Arraez to end his outing.
Since being promoted to the Florida State League, McKay hasn't allowed a run in 11 innings. In the Louisville product's debut against Jupiter on May 18, he allowed one hit while striking out five in five innings. He's also allowed just four total hits in that span.
McKay went 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA in six games for the Hot Rods in the Midwest League before his promotion. There he allowed just eight hits and walked two batters over 24 2/3 frames.
The Pennsylvania native has yet to allow a free pass with the Stone Crabs.
"Really just attacking the zone, getting ahead early," McKay said on the team's postgame radio show last week. "Even if you fall behind, just keep coming at them with great pitches that are pitchers' pitches and that hitters don't want to swing at. Force hitters to swing early and if you're a guy who attacks the zone and gets a lot of strikes, they know they can't fell behind and they get a little anxious."
Brandon Koch earned his third save with a scoreless ninth.
The lone Charlotte run came when Nathaniel Lowe scored on a throwing error by third baseman Joe Cronin in the fourth.