The Baltimore Orioles announced their Minor League Player of the Month for the month of May on Monday. Receiving the honor was Frederick Keys (High-A) outfielder Ryan McKenna.
The award was well deserved for the 21 year-old 2015 4th round draft pick out of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Hampshire. During May, McKenna slashed .397/ .470/ .586 with 27 runs scored, 22 RBI, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homeruns, 15 walks and 21 strikeouts in 28 games. His .397 batting average led the Carolina League for the month and his 27 runs scored led all of High-A baseball for the month as well.
Additionally, the Carolina League on Monday named McKenna their Player of the Week for the week of May 28th-June 3rd, a period in which he went 7 for 14 in 4 games with 1 double, 1 triple, 1 homerun, 3 runs scored and 1 RBI. For the week he slashed .500/ .611/ .929.
On the season McKenna is slashing .365/ .448/ .519/ .967 with 46 runs scored, 30 RBI, 15 doubles, 1 triple, 5 homeruns, 28 walks and 37 strikeouts in 52 games. McKenna’s name is all over the Carolina League leaderboard; as of Monday he is 1st in runs scored, hits, batting average, on base percentage and OPS, he is 2nd in doubles, triples and slugging percentage and his at-bats are good for 3rd.
Nothing prior to this season would have indicated that McKenna would be enjoying a breakout in 2018. He spent 2015 and 2016 in the Gulf Coast League and the New York-Penn League respectively where he slashed .265/ .366/ .324 and .241/ .320/ .309. The 2017 season was McKenna’s first full season in professional baseball and he produced a slash line of .256/ .331/ .380 for the Delmarva Shorebirds (A-Low).
Several things about McKenna’s stats stand out to me as possible reasons for his improvement this season. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .428, which represents a 92-point improvement over his previous best (.336, 2017). He has also improved his walk % by almost 4% points while decreasing his strikeout % almost 9% percentage points.
McKenna’s plate discipline seems to be leading the way in his success in 2018. He has had at least one strike out in just 26 of his 52 games played and had a 4-game and a 6-game streak of not striking out. In fact, at one point during the month of May, McKenna went 30 plate appearances without striking out. He is showing patience at the plate and is hitting his pitch and hitting that pitch with success.
MLB Pipeline currently ranks McKenna as the Orioles’ 29th ranked prospect; a ranking that will surely improve should he continue on the path that his season is on so far.
Fans of the Orioles would be well served if they put McKenna on their watch list of prospects. He is enjoying an exceptional season and one that could only get better if you keep in mind that he is in the equivalent of what would be his college senior season. Excitement is building in Frederick and we have a bird’s eye view of it; McKenna is certainly worth a look.
** To read more from Josh Michael (founder/editor Baby Birdland), Nick Stevens and myself about all levels of the Baltimore Orioles minor leagues please visit Baby Birdland **