Baltimore Orioles: A Trio Of Outfielders Looking For A Big 2020
By Nick Stevens
It’s not time to write off Baltimore Orioles outfield prospect Ryan McKenna.
A number of people want to point at Ryan McKenna’s 2019 numbers and say he had a down year, but the 22-year-old outfielder was rewarded with a 40-man roster ahead of December’s Rule 5 draft, where McKenna was eligible to be drafted if left unprotected.
McKenna spent his entire 2019 season in Double-A with the Bowie Baysox, slashing .232/.321/.365 with a wRC+ of 104. He also chipped in 41 extra-base hits, 25 stolen bases, and maintained a walk rate above 10% for a second-straight season.
Finishing his second season in the Eastern League, McKenna was still much younger than most of his peers in Double-A ball, arguably the toughest level of minor league baseball. With a set of tools that includes some of the most elite speed you will find in the minors, the ability to barrel a baseball and a glove and arm more than capable of staying in center field, McKenna is still one of the more exciting prospects in the Orioles system.
McKenna will have a big outfield in Norfolk to play with next season, as he likely begins the year in Triple-A. One thing I’d like to see is a decrease in his flyball rate. McKenna owned a flyball of more than 40% last season, around a 12% increase from 2018. His 18% line-drive rate ranked in the bottom half of the Eastern League and was nearly 10% lower than his 2018 season in High-A, where McKenna had his breakout performance.
I’m still very high on McKenna, probably higher than most, and believe another year of maturity will go a long way for the former fourth-round pick. With a group of outfielders set to battle it out and try and prove their worth in the major leagues in 2020 and other outfield prospects like Yusniel Diaz likely getting their shot at the big leagues first, McKenna will have a full season to showcase his skills in Triple-A and prepare for a strong push in 2021.