2019 Level: AA
Tools (current/future value)
Game Power: 40/45
Raw Power: 50/50
Most Likely Future Role: 4th Outfielder
Ceiling: Everyday Centerfielder
What we know: McKenna’s ability to add value in centerfield gives him a solid floor. He also has average raw power, so there is some pop in the bat. He was a true 80 runner at one point but lost a step in 2019 as he bulked up a bit. He’s a good baserunner, but not the basestealer you’d expect for someone with his speed. McKenna is a prolific swing change guy, always tweaking his set-up at the plate. He’s flucuated between such extremes as a no load pivot in the 2018 AFL and his Mike Trout imitation of a power stroke in 2019. After being a line drive hitter most of his pro career, he attempted to lift the ball more this year and it hurt his contact quality.
What we don’t know: What will his game look like going forward? Will he revert to his line drive, gap to gap style or will he continue to try to adjust to a more power oriented stroke? Can he improve on his pitch recognition? He can hit both velocity and quality offspeed stuff, but he can get sequenced and find himself caught in-between. Will his speed and athleticism diminish as he gets older?
What we think: McKenna is stuck in the middle, with a power hitter’s approach and a natural slash hitter’s swing. His patient approach isn’t going to work as well in the majors unless he adds game power to keep pitchers honest. But he doesn’t have natural loft in his swing and when he has tried to adjust for more power production, it’s hurt his bat to ball ability. So he needs to adopt an early count, contract based approach and reduce the strikeout rate or adjust to the new power stroke and find the barrel more often. I don’t think either of those adjustments can be counted on, so the likely role is glove-first 4th outfielder.
Another Take: McKenna has some tools that can get you excited at times about his potential, but he’s continued to struggle to put up numbers since his breakout performance in Frederick at the beginning of last year. His struggles to pick up spin, along with new desire to try and lift the ball has created less solid contact (LD% fell from 20.1% to 18.1%) and while his flyball percentage raised from 29.9% to 40.3%, his HR/flyball rate actually dropped a bit (6.5% to 6.2%). Defensively he can use his plus speed to go get the ball and he has a solid average arm, but his routes can be questionable at times and he showed a lack of awareness at times that got him benched at least once for poor throws to wrong places. If McKenna can get back to the all fields, lindrive hitter he was in Frederick, he can still end up a solid 4th outfielder do to his ability to play center field and run. (Tony Pente)