Report: Rays' McKay headed to Triple-A

Baseball's No. 29 prospect posted 1.30 ERA over 41 2/3 frames

Brendan McKay leads the Southern League with a 1.30 ERA, an 0.82 WHIP and 62 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. (Brian McLeod/MiLB.com)

By Rob Terranova / MiLB.com | May 24, 2019 1:05 AM

Brendan McKay is headed to the Minors' highest level.

According to a Tampa Bay Times report Thursday night, Tampa Bay's third-ranked prospect is being promoted to Triple-A Durham, where he is expected to start for the Bulls on Tuesday.

McKay (3-0), who opened the season with Double-A Montgomery, has dominated the Southern League through his first eight appearances. The 23-year-old leads the circuit in strikeouts (62), ERA (1.30), WHIP (0.82) and opponents' average (1.72). McKay made seven starts for the Biscuits, capping the run with a dominant third relief appearance of his career. He yielded two hits and a walk while fanning nine over six frames Wednesday, and allowed one earned run over 28 innings in his last five appearances. He whiffed a career-high 11 in his Biscuits debut on April 10.

"The more you get comfortable, things fall into place. You get in a rhythm," McKay told MiLB.com on Wednesday. "You got a good feel for the strike zone and you're throwing strikes. Staying ahead of hitters, it's a lot easier than if you're working from behind, trying to fight to get outs."

Video: Montgomery's McKay fans ninth

The dual-threat talent also notched 13 hits, seven walks, eight RBIs and scored eight runs in 23 games while serving as designated hitter this season. Although McKay played first base his first two professional years following his selection as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 Draft, the organization decided this year to put a heightened focus on his pitching and eliminate his infield responsibilities.

MLB.com's No. 29 overall prospect has not allowed a run in 20 innings -- a streak that extends beyond his last three outings (17 frames).

"I think [this season's] been going pretty well," McKay said Wednesday. "The adaptation is just get ahead of hitters and stay ahead of hitters, really. Don't give them any life at the plate. When you've got guys down, put them away. Even if they do battle back and get it even or a positive count for them, you still have to make your pitch.

"Hitting, as hard as it is, if pitchers are making pitches, it's even harder."

2019 MiLB include

The Louisville product quickly made a name for himself during his professional rookie campaign with Class A Short Season Hudson Valley. McKay posted a 1.80 ERA and 0.75 WHIP over six starts and fanned 21 while walking five over 20 frames. He also led the Renegades to a New York-Penn League title.

In his full-season debut last year, the Darlington, Pennsylvania, native made six starts for Class A Bowling Green before his May 14 promotion to Charlotte, where he made nine starts. Combined, McKay struck out 94 while amassing a 5-2 record and a 2.55 ERA over 72 1/3 innings. The effort earned him a 2018 MiLB.com Organization All-Star honors.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More