SEE ALSO: Mock Draft 2.0
After Louisville two-way junior Brendan McKay hit his second two-run home run in just the second inning of play Tuesday at Eastern Kentucky, he thought, “All right, they’re probably not going to pitch to me again.”
He was wrong. The Colonels did pitch to him again, and in the fourth inning, McKay went yard again—this time, a three-run bomb. He came back to the dugout, greeted by the stunned faces of his teammates. “Are you serious?” they said.
Then it happened again.
In the ninth inning, in McKay’s fifth and final at-bat of the game, the lefthanded hitter smoked his fourth home run to right center. Another two-run shot.
McKay came back to the dugout, and no one said a word. The Cardinals gave him the big league treatment. The silent treatment. Then again, maybe they were just speechless.
It was a monumental performance in a college career full of monumental performances. McKay entered the game with seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 121 at-bats. In just five at-bats in Tuesday’s 14-4 win, he hit four home runs and had nine RBIs.
The four bombs matched the school record set by Jim LaFountain on April 24, 1976 against Western Kentucky.
“I guess you could say it feels great, knowing that you were locked in that day,” said the typically stoic, even-keeled McKay over the phone after the game. His teammates playfully teased him on the team bus while he spoke.
“But also kind of knowing how baseball goes,” he continued, “the next game, you’re probably going to get screwed somehow.”
Knowing McKay’s track record, that’s probably not very likely.
Projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the latest mock draft (and likely to go anywhere within the first 10 picks), the Louisville two-way star remains at the center of much of the industry buzz. Is he a pitcher, or is he a hitter? The pendulum swings back and forth. On Tuesday afternoon, McKay made his case in the batter’s box. A very convincing case.
A two-time first-team All-American and the Freshman of the Year in 2015, McKay was already a frontrunner for Player of the Year before Tuesday’s action, batting .388/.522/.645 while playing first base and DH. On the mound, the lefthander—who sports a low-90s fastball and power curve—is 5-3, 1.83 with 83 strikeouts to 15 walks and 59 innings.
McKay has little preference over which side of the game he’d rather play—if he does, he hasn’t tipped his hand.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the ride,” McKay said. “You try to put in as much work as you can for either situation and then when the draft comes, it’s up to whatever team takes you. If they’ve got something in mind and they’re stuck to it, it’s up to their control.”
With the industry split on where McKay profiles best, the team who drafts him will have a special talent on their hands either way.