A year ago today, the Chicago Cubs acquired Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and the now-traded Dan Straily from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. With Samardzija bailing to the south side of Chicago, and Hammel signing back with the Cubs this season, the Athletics clearly came out on the wrong end of this deal. The Athletics must have really thought they were World Series bound, because this was video game trade logic on their part.
The noteworthy development is that Russell –undeniably the centerpiece of the deal for Chicago– might not end up being the only part of the deal baseball history remembers. Billy McKinney is starting to look like the real deal. He has been showing signs as to why he was a first round draft pick in 2012. Albeit a little further down the line, he is beginning to look like yet another quality prospect in a seemingly endless parade of them for the Cubs.
So far in 2015, split between High-A and Double-A, McKinney is slashing .320/.386/.490. He doesn’t hit for too much power (6 HR in 288 PA), but has added 17 doubles and three triples, giving him respectable slugging. He’s not much of a base-stealer (0-for-2 in 2015), but his triples seem to indicate a certain amount of game speed.
Lately, McKinney has been even better. He has 18 hits in his last 12 games to go along with a 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate. Broaden it out to the full season and the results still look good: 77 hits in 71 games, 28 walks to 32 strikeouts, and the strikeout rate a measly 12%. Even though we’re comparing Double-A to the majors, thus having no real analytical meaning, just for comparison sake, that’s the same rate as Anthony Rizzo. It’s beginning to look like this guy can hit.
Oh, yeah, he’s only 20.
Keep an eye on him.