The No. 4 overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft, Brendan McKay, will be making his professional debut with the Hudson Valley Renegades. The 21-year-old out of the University of Lousiville just signed a record-setting $7,007,500 bonus with the Tampa Bay Rays.
McKay was one of the best college players in recent history during his time at UofL, and many scouts considered him the best college player in this year’s Draft. During his freshman year in 2015, he played first and pitched for the Cardinals. He made 13 starts on the mound, going 9-3 with a 1.77 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 117 strikeouts and four saves. At the dish, he slashed .308/.418/.431 with four homers and 34 RBI. His performance on both sides of the field earned him the John Olerud Award for the best two-way player and Baseball America’s Freshman of the Year.
His sophomore year brought more of the same, with a 12-4 record, a 2.30 ERA and 128 strikeouts on the mound and a .333/.414/.513 slash line with six homers and 41 RBI at the plate. He won the John Olerud Award for the second straight season.
The awards kept piling up after his junior year in 2017. He won the Dick Howser Trophy, was named college baseball’s Player of the Year by both the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Baseball America. He won the John Olerud Award once more and was the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Player of the Year. He topped off his college career with a Golden Spikes Award, given to the best amateur baseball player in the United States.
This was all from a year that saw McKay really explode as a hitter. He slashed .341/.457/.659 with an impressive 18 homers and 57 RBI. McKay could have easily been taken as either a pitcher or a first baseman, but the Rays selected him primarily as a hitter.
McKay will join the likes of Josh Hamilton, Wade Townsend, Evan Longoria, Tim Beckham, Justin O’Conner, Taylor Guerrieri, Jeff Ames, Kes Carter, Richie Shaffer, Casey Gillaspie, and Garrett Whitley as former first-round Draft picks to join the Renegades. McKay will hope to join the even smaller list of these players to go on and have successful MLB careers.
Brendan McKay is expected to join the Renegades in the first half of July and will likely take over starting first base duties. The Rays have the option to try McKay as a pitcher if he were to struggle at the plate. McKay is perhaps the highest profiled player to play for the Renegades since Evan Longoria, who played six games for Hudson Valley in 2006.