What they're saying about A's first-round draft pick Billy McKinney

USA TODAY Sports

The A's, much like last year, went with a projectable high school bat in the first round of the MLB Draft, taking Plano West HS' Billy McKinney.

It seems like the A's made a solid draft choice in Billy McKinney, who projects to be a corner outfielder with some pop, but the A's will try to keep him in center field. He was regarded as one of the top high school bats in the draft and was the jewel of TCU's recruiting class, but it looks like the A's will be able to sign him easily.

McKinney, who scouting director Erik Kubota compared to Mark Kotsay, hit .372 with 4 home runs and 17 RBIs in his senior season. He also got on base at a .585 clip, with a 6/36 K/BB ratio.

Here's what MLB.com, which rated McKinney as the No. 34 overall prospect, wrote about McKinney:

Scouting Grades* (present/future): Hit: 4/6 | Power: 4/5 | Run: 3/3 | Arm: 4/4 | Field: 4/5 | Overall: 4/5

There are few, if any, high school bats better than McKinney's. With a balanced approach and a smooth swing from the left side, he projects to be a plus hitter with above-average power.

He's an average runner, at best, and will be limited to a corner outfield spot, but that's just fine, as his bat will play there without question.

The only thing that might be better than his hitting skills is his makeup. He plays the game the right way and is very competitive.

McKinney's character combined with his bat should get him off the board fairly early.

McKinney told Susan Slusser that even while growing up in Texas, he's always been an Oakland fan.

The on-base percentage sounds very much like the cliched "Moneyball" ideal (the book was really more about taking advantage of market inequities rather than fetishizing on-base percentage), so I asked McKinney if he's seen "Moneyball" or read it. (Kind of a standard question every time the A's draft or trade for a player now.)

He said he hasn't seen it because he has little time for movies (which makes sense for an athlete who is going to school and also playing three sports), but he definitely plans to, "for sure, there's no doubt in my mind."

He certainly knows Billy Beane's name - when Beane called McKinney to tell him the A's had selected him, "I was astonished it was him," McKinney said. "I know he's a storied name."

McKinney said he doesn't have a set idea of how long it might take him to reach the majors, but he is confident he'll perform well when he gets there.

"I just trust in my abilities....and will do some damage when the Oakland Athletics give me the opportunity," he said.

John Sickels likes his bat a lot, but isn't so hot on the rest of McKinney's tools (he also rated McKinney as the 18th-best hitter available):

McKinney is one of the best pure hitters in the draft, with a mechanically-sweet swing, an eye for the zone, and plenty of bat speed. He'd be a very early pick if the rest of his tools weren't just average, but even without Meadows or Frazier-level tools, he is a legitimate late-first round pick. A 6-1, 190-pound left-handed hitter, he is committed to Texas Christian but is signable here. His plate discipline is considered sharp, which makes sense for an Oakland pick.

How do you feel about McKinney?

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