2018 Level: High-A/AA
Current/Future/Ceiling Grades: 35/45/50
What we know:
McKenna is a small, but toolsy centerfielder who improved his stock greatly in 2018. The Orioles drafted him in the 4th round out of a New Hampshire HS in 2015. His pro career started slowly as he struggled with lackluster swing mechanics, nagging injuries, and a sizable jump in competition level. Mid-2017 he made some swing adjustments, moving his hand position and taking some of the length out of the swing. Since then his above average bat speed and discerning batting eye have been able to play up. He takes professional ABs, taking close pitches, fouling balls off, and rarely being an easy out. He’s a plus-plus runner and can bunt for a base hit or leg out an infield single on routine plays. He’s a good baserunner but lacks the knack for stealing bases. The speed plays well in CF, which along with an average arm, makes him an average defensive CF, with a chance for to be plus if his routes continue to improve. The raw power is fringe average with a chance for average eventually, but game power is below average currently (the Frederick HR numbers are a product of the park).
What we don’t know:
McKenna is a small guy with a line drive swing, the biggest question is whether he’ll hit for enough power to profile as a regular in CF. He also has trouble with pitches down and in, which will get exploited in the majors if he can’t fix it. Will he polish his defensive game and be a plus glove in CF? That would take pressure off the bat. Will his speed ever translate to effective base stealing?
What we think:
He’ll be a major league asset, but the lack of pop may relegate him to a platoon or being a good defensive-minded 4th OF. There is starting CF upside if he utilizes his speed better as a base stealing weapon and polishes his defense. There is also the chance the swing changes he’s made this year in the AFL will help him find enough gaps to keep pitchers honest. He’s using his lower half more effectively and has further simplified the pre-swing and load portion of the swing.
Written By: Luke Siler