— Fifa Khalifa (@C_Fount) March 7, 2018
Billy McKinney continues to impress the New York Yankees, crushing a grand slam against the New York Mets on Wednesday afternoon.
Just when you thought the New York Yankees outfield situation was all figured out, prospect Billy McKinney is muddling the waters. A day after smacking a three-run home run against the Detroit Tigers, the 23-year-old was back at it.
With the New York Mets leading 4-3 in the top of the eighth inning with two outs and the bases loaded, McKinney stepped to the plate. He took the third pitch he saw from New York Mets reliever Corey Taylor deep over the right-field fence, scoring Jonathan Holder, Trey Amburgey, and Jeff Hendrix to give the Yankees a 7-4 lead.
McKinney, who was ranked as the team’s 19th-best prospect heading into 2018 by MLB.com, now has four home runs on the exhibition season, tying him with third base prospect Miguel Andujar for the team lead. Thanks to his bases-clearing blast, he now has the team lead in RBI with 11, three ahead of Andujar (8).
While there was plenty of buzz surrounding him when the Yankees acquired him as part of the massive return they got from the Chicago Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade—a deal that got the Yanks not only McKinney, but Gleyber Torres, Rashad Crawford, and Adam Warren—he continues to exceed expectations.
He split the 2017 season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting a combined .277 with 52 extra-base hits (16 home runs), 64 RBI and a .821 OPS.
Even with his impressive showing both last season and this spring, there’s still no clear path to playing time for McKinney. He’s not going to take the place of Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton on the roster, while Jacoby Ellsbury remains an immovable object due to his contract.
That said, it’s entirely possible that McKinney, and not fellow outfield prospect Clint Frazier, is the first to get the call if-and-when the Yankees need another outfielder during the season.