Billy McKinney is one of the top young players in the organization. Baseball America ranked McKinney as the seventh best prospect in the system and FanGraphs thinks he is the fifth best player and top outfielder in the Cubs’ system.
McKinney is coming off a very good season, but one that was cut short in mid-August when he fouled a ball of his knee. X-rays revealed a hairline fracture in his right knee and spent the rest of the year on the disabled list.
McKinney played last season as a 20-year old. The lefty hitting outfielder started the season with High-A Myrtle Beach and tore up the Carolina League.
In 29 games for the Pelicans, McKinney batted .340/.432/.544 with five doubles, two triples and four home runs for a .976 OPS. McKinney had more walks (17) than strikeouts (13) in 125 plate appearances. McKinney was named Carolina League Player of the Week for May 4-10 just before he was promoted to Double-A Tennessee.
With the Smokies, McKinney was an on-base machine. A rough July in which he batted only .243/316/.330 skewed his numbers. McKinney had a .298/.333/.421 line after his promotion in May. In 22 games in June, McKinney hit .319/.373/.500 and in August he had a .310/.388/.500 line before his season came to an abrupt end.
McKinney batted .285/.346/.420 in 77 games for Double-A Tennessee with 26 doubles, a triple and three home runs for a .766 OPS. McKinney walked 27 times with 47 strikeouts in 308 plate appearances.
Last season was McKinney’s first full year in the Cubs system after he was acquired from the A’s with Addison Russell and Dan Straily for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in July 2014.
Over two levels in the organization last year, McKinney hit .300/.371/.454 with 31 doubles, three triples and seven home runs for a .825 OPS. McKinney had 44 walks with 60 strikeouts in 433 plate appearances.
Defensively, McKinney projects as a corner outfielder. He played 73 games in right field and 16 games in left field. Since he was acquired by the Cubs, he’s played only four games in center, with three starts … all four games while he was with High-A Daytona in 2014.
Mark Gonzales reached out to McKinney and checked in on the 21-year old outfielder. McKinney told the Tribune that “he has fully healed and is ready for the 2016 season.” McKinney is leaving for Mesa on Sunday to get a jump on Spring Training.
The Cubs have not released the list of non-roster invitees for Spring Training. McKinney should receive a NRI and be a part of big league camp in February and early March before eventually being reassigned to minor league camp.
Billy McKinney should start the season, along with Albert Almora, in Triple-A Iowa patrolling outfields in the Pacific Coast League.