Two local players drafted early.
By Steve Samek
The Wpial had a fantastic first day. Within the top two rounds too big-name players were off the board.
The highlight came in number four overall pick of the Tampa Bay Rays Brandan McKay out of the University of Louisville. While McKay was drafted as a first baseman he also has skills on the mound. His abilities playing two ways have won him three John Olerud two-way player of the year awards amongst his many awards. http://www.gocards.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=6788&path=baseball.
In Fact, McKay may be starting a revolution of two way players to come. http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19579082/louisville-brendan-mckay-aims-blaze-trail-draft-major-leagues-two-way-player. While players often switch positions after falling at one, few if any play two way. Sure, you have the occasional pitcher that can hit a little bit, but that isn’t him fielding a position. Japan does have Shohei Otani a pitcher/hitter that is going to draw attention when he hits free agency next winter. Though it would be fair to say that the last player to hit and pitch at a high caliber in the American Major Leagues was Babe Ruth. http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19579082/louisville-brendan-mckay-aims-blaze-trail-draft-major-leagues-two-way-player.
Sure, some two-way college players have had success playing one position in the majors. Dave Winfield hit 465 home runs and had over 3,100 hits playing for San Diego as a fielder. John Olerud and Toad Helton made a combined seven Major League all-star teams and won batting titles.
While others have failed to impress. John Van Benschoten pitched for Kent State and won an NCAA home run title. A first-round pick in the 2001 draft for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he didn’t last long after going 2-13 with a 9.20 era in 26 MLB appreances. Becoming one of the biggest busts in Pirates history. http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19579082/louisville-brendan-mckay-aims-blaze-trail-draft-major-leagues-two-way-player.
Tampa Bay plans to let him continue to play both positions, giving them a value pick in his versatility. http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/rays-go-bogo-brendan-mckay/#5P9KJ5JH5z3U15HI.97.
Though local fans remember him as a dominant pitcher for the Blackhawk Cougars. McKay threw 72.1 consecutive innings scoreless, between his junior and senior seasons. He earned the ranking of 10th best player in the state and won two Gatorade PA state player of the year awards. Three seasons at Blackhawk he had a sub 1.00 era while hitting at least .400. Can’t wait to watch and root for the local kid. http://www.gocards.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=6788&path=baseball
J.J Matijevic is another local star I’d love to see succeed. Matijevic is a Norwin High school product. He won numerous awards during his time with the Knights including a Baseball American All-American. http://www.arizonawildcats.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=5709
Matijevic is an infielder for the Arizona Wildcats. Famously known for his dominating play during last year’s College World Series. Matijevic had at least a hit in 11 of Arizona’s 15 postseason games. His biggest one was an rbi double that played the game’s only run in a super reginal win over Mississippi State. He then moved his talents to the Cape Cod league. The dominance continued with Matijevic collecting 11 doubles, five homers,25 rbi, while scoring 19 runs and taking 15 walks. http://www.arizonawildcats.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=5709.
His strong performance earned him the 75th pick in this year’s draft by the Houston Astros. http://www.baseballamerica.com/draftdb/index.php Matijevic was the top hitter in the Pac-12 this season and on the all-Pac-12 team. http://www.arizonawildcats.com/news/2017/6/13/baseball-matijevic-selected-in-2nd-round-by-astros.aspx
Making this a much higher selection than in 2014, when Matijevic went in the 22nd round to the Boston Red Sox. http://www.arizonawildcats.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=5709.
My feeling is this is a guy that can get on base and get things started. Though if given the opportunity he can drive in numerous runs. He could rise fast, but bummer he’s blocked at second by Jose Altuve. Good pick though for an rising Houston team.