Hi, Cal Poly. Thank you for Mitch Haniger. Could we have another, please?
The current trend for Mariner’s drafts has been selecting college bats in the first round, then worrying about pitching later. Trends die. I see this trend dying in next months draft, with the Mariners drafting one of Logan Gilbert, Jackson Kowar, or Ryan Rolison.
So that leaves the Mariners looking for a bat, preferably from the college level, in the second and third rounds. In my opinion, the position players currently slotted in the second round in most mock drafts are pretty weak.
For me, there is a gem waiting in the third round. That is Cal Poly outfielder Alex McKenna.
A few days ago, Colby mocked McKenna to the M’s in the third as well. It just makes sense. McKenna is just the type of player Jerry Dipoto has always coveted.
First of all, he just doesn’t strikeout that much. College bats, no matter what tier they fit in, usually carry a large K-rate into the draft with them. For McKenna, he’s presently sitting on a modest 15% strikeouts over 227 at-bats.
McKenna’s OPS of .932 cracks the top-100 in Division-I baseball. Overall, he’s slashing .345/.425/.523. For someone of McKenna’s 6’2, 200-pound frame, you’d expect more over-the-wall power. Instead, McKenna has only hit five dingers in 2018. The relatively low slugging percentage is indicative of some of the power concerns scouts have about McKenna.
That home run number was matched in triples, as McKenna’s above-average speed awarded him a three-bagger five separate times.
He’s not a very flashy hitter, but he has a pure bat that can cover any part of the field.
McKenna is currently playing center field for Cal Poly. While center is certainly a possibility for him in the Majors, McKenna is no Guillermo Heredia or Boog Powell out there. McKenna may start out in the Minors playing center, but once he reaches the big leagues, a corner outfield spot makes more sense for him.
It all depends on how much McKenna’s game can really expand at the professional level. He’s a fundamentally-sound player, but, in some cases, players like that have little room to grow.
His projection as a fourth outfielder in the MLB is similar to his Cal Poly counterpart Haniger. Now one of the faces of the Mariners, Haniger has exceeded every projection of him whatsoever and is seemingly on his way to his first All-Star selection.
Perhaps a similar future is in order for McKenna. If he can hit the way he has in his college career, the odds will be in his favor.
Right now, I see him becoming a Jake Marisnick (not the 2018 version) type. An average glove-and-bat combo to round off a bench rather nicely. That’s a solid value for a third-round pick.
With how bad the farm system has been over the years, it may be in Dipoto’s best interest to go for the sure thing. While there is no such thing in any draft, McKenna is probably as close as you’ll get to a sure-thing in the third round.
As I’ve covered, at his worst, he’s likely a fourth outfielder. His ceiling is pretty high, in my mind, and it doesn’t seem that the league has caught on. Perhaps the Mariners haven’t either. If true, that’s unfortunate, because McKenna has the makeup of a true big leaguer.
If he’s there at pick #90, take him. Don’t even think about it. Just do it.