On what was meant to be Major League Opening Day, one of the game’s top prospects found out what his opening assignment will be once the 2020 season begins in earnest.The Rays optioned Brendan McKay — MLB.com’s No. 15 overall prospect — to Triple-A Durham on Thursday. No. 17 Tampa
On what was meant to be Major League Opening Day, one of the game’s top prospects found out what his opening assignment will be once the 2020 season begins in earnest.
The Rays optioned
McKay entered 2020 Spring Training as a legitimate candidate to crack the Rays Major League rotation, but the 24-year-old left-hander was slowed early in camp by shoulder stiffness. He eventually made his first 2020 Grapefruit League appearance on March 6, tossing one scoreless inning, but was roughed up six days later when he surrendered four earned runs on four hits (including two homers), one walk and one hit-by-pitch over 1 1/3 innings against the Phillies on March 12. That was the day Major League Baseball announced it was canceling Spring Training and delaying Opening Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thus eliminating McKay’s additional opportunities to improve his chances of making the big club.
Instead, the 2017 first-rounder will head back to Durham, where he’ll get the time to work on both sides of his game.
McKay burned through the Minors on the mound, going 6-0 with a 1.10 ERA, 102 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings last season between Durham and Double-A Montgomery, but showed he still had some work to do at the plate. The left-handed slugger hit just .200/.298/.331 with five homers over 43 games and only received 10 at-bats during his time in the Majors. With Major League Baseball’s 26-man roster rules including a designation for two-way players going into place in 2020, McKay could have even more value for Tampa Bay under the new system, and additional time for offensive development could be beneficial toward that end.
At the top of his game, McKay features two plus pitches in his low-to-mid-90s fastball and cutter, and two additionally solid offerings in his curveball and changeup. He makes the whole package play up with plus control. Offensively, the former University of Louisville star could be average when it comes to his hit and power tools in time, though the clock is ticking on that front.
Arozarena came over to the Rays on January 9 in a trade from the Cardinals that also brought
Following Thursday’s moves, Tampa Bay still has 28 players on its spring roster.
Sam Dykstra is a reporter for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.