Brendan McKay gave Triple-A Louisville fits on the mound Tuesday. Two days later, he let the Bats know he can hurt them in more than one way.Tampa Bay's No. 3 prospect mashed his first career Triple-A homer -- his first long ball of the season -- as Durham fell to
Brendan McKay gave Triple-A Louisville fits on the mound Tuesday. Two days later, he let the Bats know he can hurt them in more than one way.
Tampa Bay's No. 3 prospect mashed his first career Triple-A homer -- his first long ball of the season -- as Durham fell to Louisville, 11-6, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in his second game as a designated hitter since he was promoted to the International League last week.
McKay made his debut for the Bulls on Sunday and went 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout at Charlotte. He dribbled a ball to second base in his first at-bat Thursday and fell behind right-handed reliever Tristan Archer, 0-2, in the fourth inning before displaying why he's the Minors' top two-way player.
MLB.com's No. 29 overall prospect whacked the offering that drifted toward the middle of the plate over the tall wall in left field to tie the game, 4-4. When McKay returned to the dugout, his teammates teasingly gave him the silent treatment.
He struck out and grounded out in his final two at-bats of the game.
Gameday box score
While pitching has become his calling card, the 23-year-old still poses a threat in the batter's box. Over 78 at-bats with Double-A Montgomery to begin the season, he hit .167 with two doubles and eight RBIs. In 2018, McKay experienced more consistent success at the plate. Between Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte, the University of Louisville product batted .225 with a .769 OPS. He clubbed six homers and drove in 39 runs while drawing 44 walks over 182 at-bats.
Entering this season, the Rays and McKay decided to eliminate defense from his responsibilities. He no longer mans first base and enters the lineup in the designated hitter role.
"There's still a belief that there's a big league hitter there even though the numbers, the results, may not have shown it over the last year," assistant director of Minor League operations Jeff McLerran told MiLB.com in March. "There's enough things underneath that, given time, we're going to see the best version of Brendan McKay as a hitter."
The southpaw was his vintage self in his IL debut on the mound, tossing five scoreless frames. McKay led all Southern League pitchers by posting a 1.30 ERA over nine outings in the Southern League prior to his promotion.
Rays No. 8 prospect Nate Lowe finished 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
For Louisville, Phillip Ervin smacked two homers, a double and plated four runs while Brian O'Grady collected three hits with two RBIs.
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.