TORONTO — When the Toronto Blue Jays introduced Billy McKinney on board within the J.A. Happ deal, they knew they have been getting one factor for positive: energy.
McKinney has some warts — he’s a bit of previous for a prospect nonetheless making an attempt to interrupt by (he turns 24 Wednesday) and his plate self-discipline might use enchancment (he has a sub-.300 OBP at two Triple-A stops this 12 months) — however he can hit the ball a great distance.
Coming into Tuesday’s 8-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles, he had 16 residence runs in simply 76 video games at Triple-A, however had but to place one over the fence within the bigs. That modified definitively on a Ryan Meisinger fastball down the pipe within the fifth.
“It felt good, I used to be glad to place the bat on the ball and have it exit,” McKinney stated. “I’ve dreamed of that for a very long time.”
The ball travelled a scorching 109.four mph, more durable than some other that left the bat all recreation, and it went 411 toes placing it firmly in “no-doubter” territory.
The knock was a significant milestone for McKinney, but it surely was additionally an encouraging signal for the Blue Jays as a result of it got here in a powerful at-bat the place he fouled off three robust pitches across the zone, took each clear-cut ball, and capitalized on a mistake.
The spherical tripper was spectacular in its personal proper, but it surely was additionally sandwiched between two different nice at-bats. Within the fourth inning, McKinney opened up the lead on a two-run single to proper.
There are a few issues that made the hit significantly noteworthy. The primary is the pitch it got here off. Dylan Bundy’s slider is by far his finest providing, with opponents hitting simply .178 in opposition to it whereas lacking on half their swings. The suitable-hander additionally put it the place he needed to on the nook low-and-in. Even so, McKinney obtained the pinnacle out and dumped it into proper discipline.
It’s additionally value noting that he clawed his approach again from an 0-2 rely within the at-bat, bringing himself again to 2-2 earlier than incomes the hit. For all his flaws, Bundy is able to placing hitters away, and McKinney stayed alive in an enormous spot.
When the younger outfielder got here to the dish within the seventh, he obtained aboard in an unexciting however spectacular approach by incomes a nine-pitch stroll. As soon as once more, McKinney discovered himself down 0-2 and fought his approach again, this time fouling off three pitches — a slider on every nook and a 97 mph fastball from southpaw Tanner Scott — and taking 4 for the stroll.
“I actually like the best way he hung in on that lefty right this moment,” supervisor John Gibbons stated. “He’s hungry, he’s searching for his alternative and he’s positively making the most of it. He’s going to offer you an excellent at-bat.”
When his work was executed, McKinney had a 2-for-Three day with three RBIs and three visits to the basepaths. Not dangerous for his fourth profession begin on the major-league stage.
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