MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (MAY 11, 2015) - In conjunction with Minor League Baseball, the Carolina League announced its Players of the Week on Monday, naming Myrtle Beach Pelicans outfielder Billy McKinney the winner for the week of May 4-10. The left-handed hitter leads all Cubs minor leaguers in RBI, while also ranking among the top four in the Cubs organization in on-base percentage (.432), slugging percentage (.544), home runs (4), and walks (17).
The honor is the first Player of the Week award for the 20-year-old McKinney, who totaled five multi-hit games during the nine-game stretch from May 4-10. In his third professional season, McKinney's week included 12 runs batted in across 30 at-bats, collecting at least one RBI in all but one game. In that stretch, he hit .433 (13-for-30) and collected four doubles, two triples, and a home run, while scoring nine runs. He also walked eight times while striking out only twice.
From May 3-9, McKinney had an RBI-streak of eight consecutive games. Overall, McKinney leads the league with a .340 batting average and has driven in 25 runs over 29 games.
McKinney's offense during the week lifted the Pelicans to a handful of victories as well, as he drove in the go-ahead run in four different contests that the Birds would go on to win. His productive streak began on Monday, May 4, when he tied a game against the Lynchburg Hillcats before the Pelicans went on to win 14-6. The next day, his fourth inning double against the Salem Red Sox gave Myrtle Beach a lead they would not surrender. In the series finale on Thursday, the left-hander hit a walk-off, tenth inning home run to help the Birds win three of four games over Salem. Two games later, he drove in the go-ahead and winning run against Winston-Salem with a tenth-inning sacrifice fly, and he was also credited with the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning on Sunday in the Pelicans 4-3 victory over the Dash.
On May 3, the day before his award-winning week began, McKinney smacked two home runs against the Hillcats. After being named Player of the Week on Monday, he followed up on the honors with a two-hit, three-RBI afternoon in an 8-5 win over the Dash.
A first-round selection by the Oakland Athletics in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of Plano (Texas) West Senior High School, McKinney was traded to the Chicago Cubs with shortstop Addison Russell and pitcher Dan Straily in exchange for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on July 4, 2014.
The Pelicans had a player named Offensive Player of the Week six times last season (Joey Gallo, three times; Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Ryan Cordell).
McKinney is the first Pelicans player to win the award this year, and fourth Cubs player to win a weekly award. Dan Vogelbach of the Double-A Tennessee Smokies has won Southern League Offensive Player of the Week twice this year for the weeks of April 9-19 and April 20-26, and Cael Brockmeyer won Midwest League Offensive Player of the Week for the Opening Week (April 9-19). Pelicans starting pitcher Tyler Skulina won the team's first Pitcher of the Week award for April 27-May 3.
Also honored this week was Lynchburg Hillcats pitcher Adam Plutko, who earned Carolina League Pitcher of the Week.
The 2015 season marks the 17th season for the Pelicans franchise and first as the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. For information on tickets to see the Pelicans in 2015, please call (843) 918-6000, e-mail [email protected], or visit www.MyrtleBeachPelicans.com.