Zach McKinstry Goes From Draft Steal To Future Big Leaguer
The 2016 draft has been a good one for the Dodgers.
First-rounder Gavin Lux was the 2019 Minor League Player of the Year and is one of the top prospects in baseball. The team's second first-rounder, Will Smith, is the team's primary catcher. Top pitching prospect Dustin May came in the third round. Other picks produced prospects Mitchell White (second round), DJ Peters (fourth), Tony Gonsolin (ninth) and Cody Thomas (13th).
And then, way back in the 33rd round, the Dodgers picked another potential big leaguer—Zach McKinstry.
Drafted out of Central Michigan, McKinstry could make his big league debut at some point during the 2020 season. The 6-foot, 180-pound second baseman/third baseman was chosen for the Dodgers' 60-player pool and spent his summer camp working out with the big league team before going to the alternate training site.
"There's a lot to like," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He's a baseball player—high baseball acumen, versatility. I like his lefthanded bat. So I think he's in play (for the big league roster) and I think that this more than any year we're probably going to have to tap into more depth than we expect to."
McKinstry put himself on the Dodgers' radar in 2018 when he hit .282 while rising to Double-A. In 2019, he made the Texas League all-star team and hit .300 with an .882 OPS between there and Triple-A. Along the way, McKinstry showed the versatility that has become so valued by front offices, handling five different positions: second base, third, shortstop, left and center field.
That was when McKinstry, 25, said he started to believe he could make the big leagues.
"Last year probably when I was selected for the (Texas League) all-star game," he said. "Just kind of worked my way, grinding and playing really well . . . I think that really helped my career, just giving me that confidence."
Added to the 40-man roster after the season, McKinstry got his first look at a major league camp before the pandemic hit.
"It's awesome. I cherish every moment of it," McKinstry said about experiencing big league camp.
— A popular preseason pick to win the 2020 National League Rookie of the Year award, second baseman Gavin Lux did not make the Dodgers' Opening Day 30-man roster. Lux arrived late to summer camp for unspecified reasons and struggled during intrasquad games.
— May did not make the Dodgers' initial roster and was optioned to their alternate training site. When lefthander Clayton Kershaw was unable to make his scheduled Opening Day start, however, May was recalled and started in his place. He became the first rookie pitcher to start on Opening Day for the Dodgers since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.