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Tampa Bay Rays are moving Brendan McKay up the ladder

Two-way star Brendan McKay didn’t last very long. The Rays are bumping him to the Florida State League after a dominating start.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Louisville vs Texas A&M Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

That was quick.

The Tampa Bay Rays have seen enough of two-way star Brendan McKay at the Low-A level. Effective Monday, McKay is a Charlotte Stone Crab.

McKay, of course, has been dominating both on the bump and at the plate since his time as Louisville. His trophy case is full of the highest accolades at the collegiate level, winning the John Olerud Award three-consecutive seasons before capping off his career with both Golden Spikes and Dick Howser Award honors.

The Rays made him the fourth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and laid to rest any questions of what he would do, saying they would let him do both. He looked good at the plate, showing his advanced eye played as well at the pro level as it did in the ACC. He was even stronger on the mound.

This year in Bowling Green of the Midwest League, he was utterly dominant on the mound. The 6-foot-2 southpaw went 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA with numbers that would make a video game pitcher jealous. McKay posted a 40-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24.2 innings, holding opponents to a .096 batting average and a ridiculous 0.41 WHIP. His WHIP in 12 career starts is now 0.56. He’s also been more effective at inducing the ground ball than he was last year, getting weak ground ball contact 61 percent of the time.

At the plate he hasn’t been as dominant, but has been performing well. Most notably he’s walked 28 times and struck out just 13. His on base prowess (.484 OBP) will allow him time for his hitting to catch up.

Our own John Sickels had McKay No. 3 in his preseason Top 20. Here’s what he had to say:

Age 22, first round pick in 2017, fourth overall, from the University of Louisville; college superstar as both hitter and pitcher; in pro ball hit .232/.349/.376 with 21 walks, 33 strikeouts, four homers in 125 at-bats in the New York-Penn League, while posting a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings, 21/5 K/BB, just 10 hits allowed; pitching line is better than hitting line so far but the sample is small either way; at this point it appears the Rays will let him do both; as a hitter, feature strong strike zone judgment with above-average power; as a pitcher, fastball velocity can be erratic but he’s up to 94 on the right day, mixing in a slider and cutter with impressive command of all pitches; could be a middle of the order bat, or a number three starter, take your pick, we still don’t know which will happen; ETA 2020.

McKay looks like he will continue to be one of the most interesting prospects to watch, and may be in line for a fast rise. Jumping to the FSL will be intriguing, being a pitcher-friendly league for an already dominant lefty.