McKinney, 22, homered yesterday in the late innings of the third Grapefruit League game of February. If you're into meaningless dingers - and who isn't? - there aren't many more forgettable blasts than those hit in the scrubbini innings of the third exhibition game. But fukkit: Today, the Yankee '17 Dream Bombers of Hope and Wild Card Contention(TM) are ranked atop the IT IS HIGH Secret Team Power List* (TM) thanks to the success story that could be Billy McKinney.
(*The IT IS HIGH Rankings are the top-ranked rankings of IT IS HIGH, based on secret team power logarithms, which transcend the wins v losses crapola used by MLB to de-legitimize Yankees success.)
The second piece in the Aroldis Chapman trade last July, McKinney is the kind of former top prospect who - with a breakout 2017 - could soar in next winter's top prospect rankings. If he has a good year, between Trenton and Scranton, the Yankees could even win next January's prestigious farm system rankings by Baseball America. Clearly, the stakes are high.
In fact, it will be fun to watch McKinney's box scores in Trention, because this is his make-or-break season. He either rakes his way through Double and Triple A - and then into a September coffee-call with the Yankees, or he'll slide back into the Slade Heathcott gene pool of minor league journeymen, of which the Bombers never seem to be in short supply.
McKinney was the 24th pick in the 2013 draft, taken by Oakland. The Yankees were said to be hot on him - (ahead of Aaron Judge, by the way.) At age 18, he went to the rookie leagues and hit .326 with 3 HRs. His stock rose.
Next season, he was hitting .241 in High Single A, when Oakland dealt him to the Cubs for pitcher Jeff Samardzija. He hit .301 the rest of the year and, heading into 2015, was ranked #83 by Baseball America and #81 by Baseball Prospectus as one of the best prospects in the game.
In 2015, McKinney hit .300 at two levels, but without much power. (He's said to be a great fielder with solid hitting and baserunning instincts.) Heading into 2016, he still ended up #74 on Baseball Prospectus list.
But last year at Double A, he hit a snag. - .252 with 1 HR in Chicago's system. The Cubs dealt him with Gleyber Torres, and he didn't fair much better at Trenton, after the trade - .234 with 3 HRs.
So... recapping... three MLB farm systems in three years - definitely not a good sign. But but BUT... yesterday, he comes up against a noboby in a nothing-burger game and homers, Zolio Almonte style. Yes, it means nothing to no one. But there's always the trace of that new car smell, and we know Cashman will be panting every time the kid comes to bat. It'll be fun watching Trenton box scores this year. Some guys just take a little longer...