MLB Draft & High School Prospects

Tough to predict where Blackhawk's McKay will land in MLB draft

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Now that Brendan McKay's scoreless innings streak has come to an end, there are the PIAA playoffs to think about -- along with the Major League Baseball draft.

McKay is the marvelous senior left-handed pitcher at Blackhawk High School whose consecutive innings streak of 72 1/3 put him in the national spotlight. But the main question now with McKay is where will his talent put him in the draft?

The PIAA playoffs start Monday, but McKay likely won't pitch after working eight innings in the WPIAL championship Thursday. But if Blackhawk wins, McKay will pitch Thursday, the same day the MLB draft starts. McKay probably won't hear his name called on Thursday, when the first two rounds are held.

But he more than likely will be taken Friday when rounds 3-10 are held.

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Talk among some scouts and draft analysts say McKay could be taken as high as the third or fourth round, or as late as the eighth through 10th. Baseball America recently came out with its draft prospect ratings. Among high school or college players, McKay was rated the 158th-best prospect, which would put him in the sixth round. He is rated the No. 1 player in Pennsylvania, high school or college.

"Some have him in the five-to-10 round range, and some have him in the four-to-five range," said John Manuel, draft analyst and editor-in-chief of Baseball American. "It's a matter of whether he's signable at the bonus level he's drafted."

McKay signed with the University of Louisville in November. He has said all along that he would definitely consider signing with a major league team, but it would depend on where he was drafted and the signing bonus.

Indications are some teams definitely like McKay. Scouting supervisors, and not just local scouts, have watched him pitch. Some team representatives personally have met with McKay's parents. One club even went to dinner with the McKays. That usually means a player is a serious prospect. Chad MacDonald, the assistant general manager of the San Diego Padres, came to watch McKay pitch in the WPIAL semifinals May 22.

It seems the question with McKay is does he throw hard enough to be a top-round selection? A 6-foot-1, 220-pounder with broad shoulders, McKay has usually been clocked at 88-90 mph this season, although he did throw 91-92 mph earlier this spring at some games playing for a team in Arizona. He has an above-average curveball for a high school player.

"Going in the fourth or fifth round is pretty good for a 6-1, 220-pound kid from Pennsylvania," Manuel said. "Usually, 6-1, 220-pound kids are not fourth or fifth round unless they are throwing 95."

McKay has a chance to be one of the top WPIAL pitchers drafted out of high school since Butler's Matt Clement was taken in the third round of the 1993 draft. But Clement and McKay are different types of pitchers, and Clement was a relative unknown as a senior in 1993. He pitched only 18 innings that season.

"What he has done this year certainly upped his status on the national draft board," Manuel said of McKay. "There are guys who go in the first round, even left-handers, who don't throw that hard and that's fine. But then teams look at their body for projection. They want those tall, physical 6-3 or 6-4 guys. Some scouting notes say [McKay] is stocky.

"So if you showed a lot of velocity, you could go high. If you don't have that, then teams are looking for that projection of athleticism. You have to have one or the other. [McKay] is very good, but I don't know if he has that elite athleticism or elite velocity to make him a pick in the first couple rounds."

It's possible that Norwin's J.J. Matijevic also could go in rounds five through seven. He has signed with the University of Arizona, but said he also will consider turning pro if he is drafted high enough and the money is right.

Matijevic is a 6-2, 220-pound shortstop who is believed to be the first player to win the WPIAL triple crown (leader in batting average, home runs and RBIs). Baseball America rates him as the 181st prospect for the draft.

"He's projected to probably be a third baseman, but we have him going in the fifth to seventh rounds," Manuel said.

Players from the WPIAL in the past 40 years who have been selected in the top three rounds of the draft coming out of high school.

For more on high school sports, go to "Varsity Blog" at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.


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