McKay fired five scoreless innings in Double-A Montgomery's loss to Birmingham on Sunday, allowing three hits and a walk while recording six strikeouts.
The promising two-way prospect has been especially sharp on the mound for the Biscuits thus far, allowing one or no runs in three consecutive starts. McKay has also racked up an impressive 33 strikeouts over 18.2 innings, a 2.41 ERA and .188 BAA. He's also been able to complete five full frames in each of his last two trips to the mound after falling short of the mark in his first pair of starts.
McKay struck out 11 batters while giving up three earned runs in 4.2 innings in his debut start for Double-A Montgomery.
He only gave up two hits and a walk, but one of those hits was a three-run home run. The former two-way player pitched much, much better than his ERA indicates after one start. Striking out 11 batters in less than five innings is no small feat, and it is a sign that he will likely reach Triple-A sometime this summer.
The Rays are hopeful that removing defensive responsibilities will simplify McKay's pre-game schedule and aid his development both as a pitcher and hitter. Additionally, McKay's lack of time at first base should increase his chances of avoiding extended absences after oblique injuries forced him to the disabled list on two occasions in 2018. McKay performed much better as a pitcher in his first full professional season, logging a 2.41 ERA and 110:14 K:BB in 78.1 innings between rookie ball, Low-A Bowling Green and High-A Charlotte. Over 56 games as a hitter -- during which half of his starts came at first base -- McKay slashed a pedestrian .214/.368/.359 with six home runs and 39 RBI across 192 at-bats.
McKay was placed on the 7-day disabled list at High-A Charlotte due to an oblique issue, Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times reports.
McKay will likely remain sidelined for the rest of the 2018 campaign since the minor-league season is nearing its end. The 22-year-old previously spent around three weeks on the DL earlier this year due to an oblique injury, so it's expected that the Rays will take this slow to ensure that he comes back fully healthy.
McKay went 1-for-4 with an RBI double and a run in High-A Charlotte's loss to Tampa on Wednesday.
The outing marked McKay's return to action after he spent nearly a month on the minor-league disabled list due to an oblique injury. The two-way prospect has found High-A pitching somewhat unwelcoming thus far, as he's slashing just .204/.338/.315 with three doubles, one home run and 10 RBI across 65 plate appearances with the Stone Crabs.
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