Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 Draft, Player of Interest: OF Billy McKinney

Billy McKinney
Plano West (TX) H.S.
6-1, 195 lbs, B/T: L/L
Courtesy: Unknown

Billy McKinney is a bat-first prospect with a sweet lefthanded swing. In fact, he may be a bat-only prospect. He's very likely to be limited to the bottom of the defensive spectrum (1b/LF), so his hitting will need to carry him to the majors. And, that's a lot of developmental pressure to place solely on the bat. Fortunately, he has just the type of swing that can handle the pressure.

McKinney has been called this year's Jesse Winker (which, based on the latter's professional debut is quite a compliment), and they have similar player profiles, but I actually prefer McKinney's swing. McKinney's swing doesn't have the arm-bar or unusual hand-action that Winker utilizes.

McKinney's swing should allow him to hit for both average and power. In addition to his hitting ability, he also has a disciplined approach and should be able to effectively control the strike zone, which could make him a complete hitter with the ability to generate value in all three components of the slash-line.

Here's a look at McKinney in action, courtesy of Steve Fiorindo on YouTube:

And, another courtesy of baseballfactoryTV on YouTube:

Frankly, I can't find a single flaw in his swing mechanics. It's a beautiful beautiful swing, fluid and balanced. It's a swing driven by both the hands and the rotation of the hips, generating very good bat speed. He quickly buries the left elbow in close to the left hip, syncing the arms with the rotation of the hips. His lower body rotation is powerful and drives him up on toe of his back foot. He has good hand-eye coordination and consistently gets the barrel of the bat on the ball.

The balance in the swing is also a beautiful thing, especially considering how much force he has to control in order to maintain it. The more force a swing generates, the more difficult it is to control that force to keep the swing in balance.

Another thing working in McKinney's favor is his makeup, which is reported to be off the charts. And, while makeup is frequently overlooked, it IS important to a player's development, a point driven home only recently by Rays' OF prospect Josh Sale.

There's a lot to like with McKinney. There's also some risk due solely to the fact that he won't generate appreciable value with his defense or speed. So, you're basically putting all your chips on the bat, which really increases the development risk. But, it's one helluva bat. Good enough to land him on my draft board. Maybe good enough to make him the right pick at #27.

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