Rays News

Brendan McKay returns to the Mound for the First Time in over 600 Days

By Kasey Kuhrts
Brendan McKay Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
Brendan McKay Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
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It’s has been a long road to recovery for Tampa Bay Rays prospect Brendan McKay, but McKay took a huge step in his recovery on Tuesday.

If you remember, McKay suffered a shoulder injury in August of 2020, which turned out to be a torn labrum. McKay missed the entire 2020 season and has yet to pitch in 2021, until Tuesday.

You might also remember McKay as a hitter, which is something he has done since the last time he pitched. However, after going 2-for-22 with Triple-A Durham this season, you begin to wonder if the Tampa Bay Rays might be done giving McKay at-bats.

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Who is Brendan McKay again?

I imagine you all remember Brendan McKay, but if not, I’ll give a quick refresher.

McKay was selected fourth overall in the 2017 MLB Draft as a two-way player out of the University of Louisville. After signing, McKay spent the entire 2017 season with the Tampa Bay Rays Single-A short-season team, the Hudson Valley Renegades.

In 2018, McKay played at three different levels of the Rays organization, including GCL, Single-A, and Single-A Advanced.

In 2019, McKay started the season in Double-A Montgomery, and eventually was called up to Triple-A Durham. McKay was selected to represent the Rays in the 2019 Futures Game, but did not do so, as he was called up to make his MLB Debut June 29th, 2019.

McKay pitched in 13 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2019, with a 5.14 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, and an 85 ERA+.

Brendan McKay Returns

As I mentioned above, McKay suffered a shoulder injury that kept him off the mound for all of the 2020 season, and so far, all of the 2021 season. McKay was to compete for a rotation spot in “summer camp” last season before the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, but obviously due to his injury, that didn’t happen.

That brings us to Tuesday. Lower-level minor league seasons opened this week, included in those was the Florida Complex League, formally the Gulf Coast League. The FCL Rays are rookie ball, based out of the Rays complex in Port Charlotte.

In the FCL, the Rays will play other rookie ball teams housed by their major league team facilities. For example, the FCL Yankees, who currently have super-prospect Jasson Dominguez, play their games at the Yankees facility in Tampa. Dominguez, by the way, will play in the Futures game this season, which was announced before he played in his first professional game. Crazy.

Anyways, back to McKay. In the first home game for the FCL Rays in 2021, Brendan McKay took the mound for the first time in 640 days and pitched two scoreless innings against the FCL Pirates Gold.

In those two innings, McKay allowed only one hit, one walk, and picked up a single strikeout.

What’s next for Brendan McKay

Now, the stat line has nothing to do with what Rays fans should take away from this outing from McKay.

Rays fans should be encouraged that McKay got through the outing pain-free, according to all reports, and didn’t appear to take any major steps back with his stuff.

Now, with that said, Brendan McKay still has a long road ahead of him. As this was only one, two-inning outing, McKay will likely need a couple more FCL outings before the Rays can move McKay to the next step in his rehab.

However, with that said, the Rays still think very highly of Brendan McKay. McKay is ranked as the third overall prospect in the Rays system, and number 55 overall in Major League Baseball. If all goes according to plan with McKay, we could likely see him on the mound at Tropicana Field before the end of the season.

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