PITTSBURGH — Determining whether top draft pick Brendan McKay will be more productive as a pitcher or a hitter or can handle the demands of doing both professionally will be a long endeavor that could take years.
But the Rays and McKay were able to get the process started fairly quickly, agreeing Tuesday night to a deal that will pay the No. 4 overall pick a $7,007,500 bonus. That's the highest under the current draft system, at least until the Reds come to terms with No. 2 pick Hunter Greene.
"Our scouting staff believes that Brendan has the ability to impact a major-league roster on the mound, in the batter's box and defensively at first base," Rays scouting director Rob Metzler said. "We are excited to provide Brendan the unique opportunity to further develop as a two-way prospect. On top of Brendan's physical ability, he is a young man with strong character and a great mental foundation for playing baseball. It is great news that we were able to complete a deal so quickly after the College World Series, and get him started on his professional journey."
With McKay's stellar amateur career ending last weekend with Louisville's elimination in Omaha, the Rays will give him some time to collect his top player award before putting him to work in mid July with short-season Class A Hudson Valley.
In between, he'll likely spend some time with the Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte and make the obligatory appearance at the Trop, tentatively July 7.
"It's awesome to sign so quickly after the College World Series," McKay said. "Our season didn't end the way we wanted it to, but now I can get back to playing very soon and continue living my dream."
The Rays on Tuesday also agreed to a deal with third-round pick Taylor Walls, the shortstop from Florida State. The only unsigned pick from the top 10 rounds is Oregon State right-hander Drew Rasmussen, whom they took 31st overall with a competitive balance round pick.