billy mckinney smokiesTo a great degree, Billy McKinney has proven to be who we thought he was. He has a very patient, polished left-handed swing that generates a lot of hard contact on balls in the zone, and a lot of walks when pitchers have trouble locating. He does not swing himself out of many at bats, and he has the inflated OBPs to prove it. He is capable defensively in the corners, but lacks the speed to likely be a truly viable option in center field or much of a threat on the bases.  All of these are things we suspected before the season began.

And then we come to his power. Coming into the season, the thinking on McKinney was that he was a bit of a ‘tweener outfielder: lacked the speed and glove for center, but lacked the power for the corners. Consider, then, that he slugged .544 in Myrtle Beach before being promoted to Tennessee, and in his short time with the Smokies he is currently slugging .450.

In fact, four of his five current Double A hits are doubles. Eleven of his thirty-five Myrtle Beach hits went for extra bases, including four homers. Those are not the numbers of a slugger in the Bryant / Schwarber mold, but neither are those are the numbers of a guy with too light of a bat to play regularly in an outfield corner.

The sample in Tennessee is small, though, so it is much too early to say that the power he showed on the beach will survive in the mountains, but if it does I think we can consider removing the “lacks enough power” strike from the book on McKinney. He’s not a left-handed Jorge Soler, but he just might have enough slugging to be a somewhat better than league average offensive left fielder one day. Remember: McKinney is still just 20 years old.

Scores From Yesterday

Iowa – Iowa’s game was postponed.
Tennessee – The Smokies won in shutout fashion, 3-0.
Myrtle Beach – The Pelicans offense faltered in the later innings as they lost 6-2.
South Bend – The Cubs allowed Lansing a big fourth inning, and that proved to be the difference. The Cubs lost 7-3.

Performances of Note

  • [Tennessee] Ivan Pineyro pitched 7 strong innings (101 pitches) in which he scattered 3 walks and 4 hits while striking out 6. Carl Edwards Jr. walked and struck out 3 more in his 2 innings of hitless relief.
  • [Tennessee] Elliot Soto had a great day yesterday. He tripled, walked, and finished 3 for 3.
  • [Tennessee] Even though they had no hits, thanks to walks Dan Vogelbach (one walk) and Kyle Schwarber (2 walks) were still on base in this one.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Victor Caratini and Chesny Young each had 2 hits (all singles) for the Pelicans. Young also stole his second base since coming to High A.
  • [Myrtle Beach] Mark Zagunis was held to just one hit, but he also walked 3 times.
  • [South Bend] Jesse Hodges tripled and finished 3 for 4. It was his first triple of the year.
  • [South Bend] Charcer Burks stole his 12th bag for the Cubs and also picked up 2 hits. Jason Vosler collected a pair of hits as well.

Other News

  • Another day, another mock draft. This one is the fourth edition from Through The Fence Baseball, and they have the Cubs taking high school outfielder Trent Clark. Clark is a left-handed hitting outfielder who put up a pile of largely meaningless numbers in high school that are sure to get fans very excited if he proves to be the pick. The scouting reports, which are what really matter when looking at high school hitters, are promising, but this is a pick that does not really excite me. I’d probably prefer one of the remaining college arms on the board in this scenario.
  • That mock draft actually extends past the Cubs pick in the second round as well. We haven’t talked a lot about that pick, partly because projecting a pick that far down the board is really hard to do with accuracy, but the choice here is certainly someone I can see the Cubs drafting. Peter Lambert, a right handed high school pitcher from California, is the choice. Lambert is listed as having good size, decent velocity, good command, and two pitches that may already grade out as plus. That is a good foundation for a high school pitcher to build on, and those are exactly the sorts of things I would expect the Cubs to look for in a potential second round pick.

Photo via Tennessee Smokies on Twitter.

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