He opened eyes in Spring Training, including skipper Joe Girardi’s, but faced a bit of an uphill climb after injuries affected his 2015 and 2016 seasons. Fortunately, it appears the still-very-young 23-year old McKinney found his former self in 2017.
Already a nationally known prospect for being a first round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2013, he’s become further entrenched in baseball history by being a part of two trade deadline blockbusters.
In 2014, he was dealt from Oakland to the Chicago Cubs for Jeff Samardzija. Two seasons later he went from Chicago to New York for Aroldis Chapman.
The well-traveled prospect seems to be finding a permanent home —as well as his footing— in the Yankees organization.
Ranked third overall by John Sickels in the Cubs farm system going into last season, injuries and a move to a remarkably deep Yankees crop wounded his favorable status among scouts.
The tools never left, and as McKinney got healthy this season, he started to recapture that can’t-miss potential.
Surprisingly, his results at Double-A pale in comparison to his stellar Triple-A output. He hit .250 in 69 games for Trenton, but a 45:30 K:BB ratio highlighted one of his best skills: plate discipline.
The Texan outfielder has always been applauded for his makeup, baseball instincts and head on his shoulders. With his body catching back up to his mind, he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the end of June.
Where he took off.
He began the month of July with a a six game hitting streak, twice going 3-for-4. He reached base in 14 of his first 15 contests for the RailRiders, splitting his time almost evenly between left field (eight starts) and right field (seven).
His slash line in 55 games at Triple-A is an encouraging .306/.336/.541 with an OPS approaching .900 at .877. He hit 10 home runs, 13 doubles and three triples, showing a little bit of everything, including 32 runs scored.
He’s the type of prospect that you love because of that ‘everything’ aspect. Nothing may truly stand out, but nothing lags behind. A developing player without much in the way of weaknesses is a valuable one.
The game of games for McKinney this season is probably July 28th, coming up on a month into his time at the top minor league level. He went 4-for-5 with a double, two triples and a homer. He also had six RBI and fell just a single short of the cycle, but two triples more than makes up for that. He was also hit by a pitch, reaching five times and totaling 12 bases.
One of baseball’s best farm systems has a lot to be happy about in the near and distant future. McKinney’s future with the big league club falls into the near category and it looks like he’s reclaimed his prospect status, setting up the Yankees to soon reap the benefits.