Michael McCammon

Between the Lines: Can Brendan McKay Bring Back the Two-Way Player?

In a Hardball Scoop exclusive series, Carmine DiPalma will read in between the lines of the rumor that front office members across baseball have kept an open mind into allowing top 2017 draft prospects to play both ways professionally.

The 2017 MLB Draft has the potential to make history. It was reported that several GM's are open to the idea of having a two-way player in their professional ball clubs. The reason they’re so open to the idea? Brendan McKay.

McKay, Louisville’s pitcher and left-handed slugger wants to display both his pitching and hitting abilities in professional baseball however he has an open and matured approach to the situation.

"You go in trying to do both," McKay said this week after Louisville advanced to its fifth straight Super Regional. "But when somebody takes you in the draft and gives you whatever amount of money they're gonna give you, they might have a little more say than you or your advisor. You give your input. But when it comes down to it, it's like any other job. You're going to do what they tell you to do to earn that paycheck."

This is the right mentality to have for McKay but at the same time he has these exceptional talents that not many people could say they have. Whether or not the team who drafts McKay wants him as a pitcher, hitter or both remains to be seen. But one thing that is for certain is McKay will be selected within the first few picks of the draft.

This is what is causing the complications for MLB teams because of the fact that the pick is so high they must be sure that their selection will make it to the Majors and be a productive big league player so that their pick is justified. This is why it is so easy for teams to force a player one way or the other because should that player bust then the team won't have to explain it to the media that their two-way player didn't do well. Since the two-way player hasn't been around for so long it becomes hard to sell to a fan base if it becomes a bust.

However McKay may be one of the exceptions here. McKay has a 10-3 record to the tune of a 2.34 ERA with 140 strikeouts in 104 innings. On the offensive side of the game he is batting .343 with 17 home runs and 56 runs batted in. 

"I don't know if he's the No. 1 college pitcher in the country," Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell said. "Let's just say he's in the top three to five. I don't know if he's the top college hitter in the country. Let's just say he's in the top three to five. So you're getting two players with one pick and one dollar value.”

McDonnell makes a good point, in an era of trying to maximize everything what a better way to maximize a draft pick than to pick a player who excels on both sides of the ball. In fact, McKay has earned the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year three years in a row.

In addition to McKay making a run at becoming a professional two-way player, California prep star Hunter Greene could make a run at the same thing. Greene is a talented shortstop/pitcher however in today's day in baseball once he hit 102 MPH his path seems figured out as a pitcher.

However McKay and Greene could pave the way for two-way players for years to come if they are brave enough to tell their teams and strong enough to be willing to put the hard work in.


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