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Billy McKinney Makes Most Of Opportunity

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Billy McKinney (Photo by Mike Janes)[/caption]

TAMPA—Had the Athletics not taken Billy McKinney with the 24th pick in the 2013 draft, then the prep outfielder would have been a Yankees farmhand three years earlier.

The Yankees, who flew the Plano, Texas, product to Tampa for a workout, were poised to select McKinney with the 26th pick and had him rated higher than Notre Dame third baseman Eric Jagielo, whom they took and later included in the package they used to pry Aroldis Chapman from the Reds in 2016.

McKinney moved from the A’s to the Cubs near the 2014 trade deadline in a deal that also sent Addison Russell to Chicago for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Last year the Yankees acquired McKinney from the Cubs along with shortstop Gleyber Torres, righthander Adam Warren and outfielder Rashad Crawford for Chapman.

"I came here and they worked me out. I was aware they liked me,” said McKinney, 22. "It’s pretty cool this is my third organization, and it is pretty cool how you end up with this organization.”

Originally, McKinney, who bats lefthanded, wasn’t invited to big league camp, even after hitting .283 with power in his final 14 games at Double-A Trenton a year ago.

When outfielders Mason Williams and Tyler Austin were injured working out before spring training, the Yankees summoned McKinney from the minor league complex. He performed well in big league exhibition games, going 6-for-15 with two home runs.

McKinney knows all about ill-timed injuries. At the end of the 2015 season, he fractured a knee cap by fouling a ball off it.

McKinney’s credits his strong finish in 2016, which caught the attention of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, to quality at-bats and not a drastic adjustment.

"I really didn’t change anything,” he said. "We worked on the mental aspect of (hitting), trying to get into a strong, fast position. I worked with the hitting coaches on the right mental approach.”


After much talk about how the Yankees would deal with outfielder Clint Frazier’s flowing red hair, the team instructed the 22-year-old get a haircut. Girardi deemed that the hairy issue was becoming a distraction.

Domingo German, a 24-year-old righthander, impressed the Yankees in early workouts. He looked healthy after missing the 2015 season and pitching in 10 games last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees acquired German and Nathan Eovaldi in 2014 when they traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Marlins.


Baseball America Prospect Report -- April 3, 2019

Dan Vogelbach homers to beat the Angels, Victor Robles is quiet in Bryce Harper's return to Washington and more.

— George King covers the Yankees for the New York Post

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