Entering his first Double-A start Wednesday, Brendan McKay admitted he had some butterflies.He dealt with them by going out and striking out the side in the first inning.The third-ranked Tampa Bay prospect went on to record a career-best 11 strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings as Montgomery fell to Biloxi, 4-3,
Entering his first Double-A start Wednesday, Brendan McKay admitted he had some butterflies.
He dealt with them by going out and striking out the side in the first inning.
The third-ranked Tampa Bay prospect went on to record a career-best 11 strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings as Montgomery fell to Biloxi, 4-3, on Wednesday at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.
"You know, it's the first time in a new league and you want to get off to a good start and pitch great," McKay said. "But once you get through that beginning, and it goes your way, you calm down a little bit. It brings things back down to normal and you settle into a rhythm."
Gameday box score
MLB.com's No. 29 overall prospect left after allowing three runs on two hits and a walk, but did not factor in the decision. McKay notched three nine-strikeout performances in his career, most recently last May 30 for Class A Advanced Charlotte when he accomplished the feat over six innings. The dual-threat player has appeared as a designated hitter in three games for the Biscuits and is batting .273/.385/.364 with two RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
"I just wanted to keep pounding the zone. Get ahead early and try to dictate what the hitter has to do," he said of Wednesday's outing. "Today was just about being ahead early and making quality pitches at key times."
Against the Shuckers, the 23-year-old retired the first six batters, five via the punchout. After Cooper Hummel led off the third with his first homer of the season on an 0-1 changeup that caught too much of the plate. McKay did not allow another baserunner in the frame while fanning a pair.
"My changeup wasn't a good pitch for me today, and that one wasn't where I wanted to put it," he said. "I left it up a little bit too much and the hitter put a good swing on it. But you can't be too bummed about that, that's what hitters in this league are supposed to do. As a hitter myself, I know that feeling."
The only other trouble for the 2017 first-round pick came in the fourth when Weston Wilson pushed a ground-ball single into left field, C.J. Hinojosa walked on five pitches and Dillon Thomas was plunked to load the bases with nobody out. McKay got Patrick Leonard swinging on a 2-2 off-speed pitch, but Luis Aviles Jr. lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center and Hinojosa raced home on a wild pitch.
The southpaw whiffed the final three batters he faced and threw 46 of 71 pitches for strikes.
"At that point you're cruising and you want to finish off the inning, but you also understand that there's more to it than just that," McKay said. "There's a whole season ahead of you, and let's say you let the next guy on and then get pulled, that's bad. So I understand getting pulled there. You'd rather end on a good note than with a salty taste in your mouth going into the next outing. But it's a good feeling to get off to a good start and have something to build off of here."
Rays No. 10 prospect Lucius Fox tripled, walked and crossed the plate on a groundout by 15th-ranked Josh Lowe.
The go-ahead run for Biloxi scored with two outs in the ninth when Rene Pinto was called for a catcher's balk after interfering with Blake Allemand, who was hitting with runners on second and third. The teams combined for 32 total strikeouts in the game with Montgomery pitchers accounting for 18 of those.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24.