FSL notes: McKinney acclimating quickly

Outfielder makes immediate impact with Cubs after blockbuster deal

Billy McKinney is hitting .327 with nine extra-base hits and 28 RBIs in his first 31 games with Daytona. (Aldrin Capulong)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MiLB.com | August 13, 2014 10:00 AM ET

Billy McKinney was surprised when the Oakland Athletics took him with the 24th overall pick in the 2013 Draft.

"Their scouts a very stealthy," the outfielder said. "I really didn't know if they were that interested."

The real shock, though, came a little over a year later.

McKinney was traded to the Chicago Cubs as part of Oakland's first blockbuster deal of the summer. Along with him went shortstop Addison Russell -- the Athletics' first-round pick the year before McKinney.

"That's what really stunned me," McKinney said. "I know how much they loved Addison."

Oakland loved McKinney's potential, too. But the Athletics are looking to win now and agreed to part with their two top prospects to land Jeff Samardzija and fellow starter Jason Hammel.

The rebuilding Cubs -- their impressive prospect list now even better -- were the beneficiaries.

Russell, the 11th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, is off to a strong start in his new organization at Double-A Tennessee. and McKinney has done the same with Daytona in the Class A Advanced Florida State League.

McKinney, who doesn't turn 20 until Aug. 23, hit a team-best .327 in his first 31 games with Daytona and had nine extra-base hits and 28 RBIs. His on-base percentage was .424 thanks to 18 walks.

"The guys here have really made it easy," McKinney said of the transition to a new organization. "I couldn't be happier to be a Cub."

As much as the left-handed hitter and thrower was looking forward to reaching the Major Leagues with Oakland, Wrigley Field is certainly a more intriguing potential destination than O.co Coliseum.

McKinney has already played inside the ivy-covered walls once. That was in the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game before his senior year at Dallas area Plano West High School.

"Everyone hopes to play in Wrigley Field," McKinney said. "It's a stadium you know about even if you're not a baseball fan."

In the talent-laden Cubs farm system, it won't necessarily be easy to get there, though.

McKinney has dropped from No. 2 on the Oakland prospect list to No. 9 with the Cubs, who have eight among MLB.com's Top 100.

"There are definitely a bunch of great players in this organization," he said.

McKinney tweaked his shoulder at the end of July diving for a ball in Daytona but missed just a few days. He was 8-for-20 with six walks in his first six games back while temporarily serving as the designated hitter.

"I'm sure I'll be back in right field soon," he said. "I'm fine -- it's just precautionary."

A rough May left McKinney hitting just .241 with Stockton of the Class A Advanced California League at the time of the trade, but his overall numbers are still solid for the season.

In 101 combined games, McKinney had 18 doubles, four triples, 11 homers, 61 RBIs and 54 walks. His on-base percentage was .424 and his slugging mark .449.

Although Russell was the big-name prospect going to the Cubs, McKinney deserves attention in his own right.

"It was an honor to be a part of a trade like that," he said. "It was surprising but very exciting, too."

In brief

Changing homes: The Fort Myers Miracle will play at JetBlue Park for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs with construction under way at Hammond Stadium on upgrades to the Minnesota Twins' home for Spring Training. The switch began Aug. 12 with the start of an eight-game home stand. JetBlue Park is the Spring Training home for the Boston Red Sox and features a version of the Green Monster in left field. The Miracle won the first-half title in the FSL's South Division.

Streak breaker: Brevard County right-hander Tyler Wagner, who had won seven consecutive decisions, lost for the first time since June 13 when he gave up six hits and four runs over five innings in a 6-4 defeat at Tampa on Aug. 7. Milwaukee's No. 15 prospect had allowed just three earned runs over 52 1/3 innings in his previous eight starts. Wagner is second in the FSL with a 1.76 ERA and tied for second in victories with an 11-5 record.

Closing it out: Dunedin closer Arik Sikula spent a month in Double-A at midseason and still has twice as many saves as any other pitcher in the FSL. The 24-year-old right-hander converted 28 saves in 31 chances with Dunedin, posting a 1.95 ERA and 2-1 record in 49 games. Most impressively, Sikula had 73 strikeouts to eight walks in 50 2/3 innings. Danny Barnes set the Dunedin saves record with 34 in 2012, a season after Wes Ethridge led the league with 32.

An even dozen: Bradenton right-hander Chad Kuhl won his fifth straight decision and took over the FSL lead for victories when he improved to 12-5 by beating St. Lucie, 2-1, on Aug. 10. He allowed three hits over six innings, lowering his ERA to 3.43. The ninth-round pick by Pittsburgh in the 2013 Draft out of the University of Delaware has lost just once since falling to 3-4 with a 5.01 ERA on May 17.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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