Rays sign 4th overall pick Brendan McKay, will send him to Hudson Valley

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have signed left-handed pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay, the No. 4 overall selection from the 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

McKay will join Short-A Hudson Valley in July after he receives his postseason honors as a Golden Spikes award finalist and Dick Howser Trophy winner. He was named the 31st recipient of the Dick Howser Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player, prior to the College World Series. It was McKay’s fifth national Player of the Year award in 2017, receiving the same honor from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, D1Baseball and Perfect Game. In addition, for the third straight season he was the winner of collegiate baseball’s John Olerud Award, which is given to the nation’s top two-way player.

“Our scouting staff believes that Brendan has the ability to impact a major league roster on the mound, in the batter’s box and defensively at first base,” said Rays Director of Amateur Scouting Rob Metzler. “We are excited to provide Brendan the unique opportunity to further develop as a two-way prospect. On top of Brendan’s physical ability, he is a young man with strong character and a great mental foundation for playing baseball. It is great news that we were able to complete a deal so quickly after the College World Series, and get him started on his professional journey.”

As a junior at the University of Louisville, McKay was named the ACC Player of the Year, going 11-3 with a 2.56 ERA (109-IP, 31-ER) and a school-record 146 strikeouts in 16 starts. He ranked first in the conference in wins and strikeouts, second in innings pitched and sixth in ERA. At the plate, he hit .341 (76-for-223) with a .457 on-base percentage and 18 home runs, which tied for fourth in the ACC. The highest draft selection in school history concluded his collegiate career with a .328 avg., 28 home runs and 132 RBI in 189 games (182 starts) as a hitter. On the mound, he is Louisville’s record holder in career strikeouts (391) and ranks second in wins (32), innings pitched (315.1) and starts (47).

This season, Louisville advanced to the College World Series in Omaha for the third time in five seasons and fourth time in school history. Against Texas A&M in the opener, McKay started and recorded the win and went 1-for-5 as the team’s cleanup hitter. The Cardinals were eliminated after back-to-back losses to Florida and TCU, though McKay had a solo home run in the elimination game and a pair of doubles the game prior.

The 2017 First-Year Player Draft was the fourth time the current ownership group led by Stuart Sternberg held a Top 10 overall pick. With their three previous selections, they drafted third baseman Evan Longoria (No. 3 overall in 2006), left-handed pitcher David Price (No. 1 overall in 2007) and shortstop Tim Beckham (No. 1 overall in 2008).