Yankees Giving Billy McKinney a Shot In Spring Training


The Yankees have added former super prospect Billy McKinney to the Spring Training mix as a non-roster invitee, replacing the recently injured Tyler Austin.

With Tyler Austin set to miss the next six weeks due to a broken bone in his left foot, and Mason Williams out for two weeks with a strained patellar tendon, the Yankees have invited Billy McKinney to camp, whom they acquired in last season’s Aroldis Chapman deal.

McKinney, who once upon a time was the 24th overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Oakland Athletics, has yet to live up to the hype of such a selection. In 2014, McKinney was shipped to the Cubs alongside Addison Russell and Dan Straily for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Though McKinney started off the 2015 season in the Single-A Carolina League on a tear — batting .340 in 29 games — quickly earning himself a promotion to Double-A that May, a hairline fracture in his right knee three months later stalled McKinney’s progress.

Still only 22, McKinney struggled mightily in Double-A for the Yanks and Cubs last season. In 123 total games, McKinney batted .246 with four home runs and 44 runs batted in.

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Whether it’s once again living up to the expectations of being the second “named prospect” included in a big trade (Gleyber Torres was the headliner), or the sheer fact he’s “bored” in the minors like Yankees general manager Brian Cashman recently said about Gary Sanchez‘s struggles down on the farm, McKinney will need to build off a solid end to his 2016 season.

In his final 14 games, McKinney hit .283 with one home run and a .819 OPS. Currently ranked as the Yankees’ No. 5 outfield prospect and No. 16 overall by MLB.com, McKinney has a real supporter in Yankees vice president of player development, Gary Denbo.

Last October, Denbo spoke to MLB.com about the left-fielder known for his quick stick.

"“He had issues with his knee and didn’t have all his balance and stability in his lower half, which makes it difficult to be a consistent hitter,” Denbo said. “He’s just now getting healthy. He’s working very hard to improve his timing and lower-half stability, and also to let his raw power play in games. He started to do that late in the season and he has been one of our best performers down here.”"

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A wonderful opportunity for McKinney to make his presence known to the Yankees’ brass, he’ll likely begin the season back at Trenton. Should he turn a few heads this spring, McKinney could leapfrog the likes of Mason Williams and Jake Cave for playing time at Triple-A Scranton.