For all Red Flag Tournaments all entry gates and merchandise kiosks are now cashless. All purchases can be made by Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover. Thank you.
1,314 MLB PLAYERS | 12,617 MLB DRAFT SELECTIONS
College | Story | 7/1/2015

McKay leads talented Freshmen

Patrick Ebert         Jheremy Brown         Mike Rooney        
Photo: Louisville Sports Information

2015 College Baseball Awards | 2015 Perfect Game College All-Americans

The 2015 college baseball season was a very good one when it comes to emerging talent, not to mention eye-popping performances. Not often are there three legitimate candidates that create lengthy discussions as to which player is the most deserving and for what reasons.

While there are more than just three players that could have been considered in most any other year, Louisville's Brendan McKay, Florida's J.J. Schwarz and LSU's Alex Lange stood out the most. For Schwarz and Lange one could craft a compelling argument for them being named the 2015 College Baseball Freshman of the Year simply by throwing out out two stats: Eighteen and twelve.

Eighteen is the number of home runs that Schwarz hit and 12 is the number of wins Lange recorded in a perfect rookie year for an LSU club that relied heavily upon their young hurler since the opening day of the season. Both the Gators and the Tigers made it to Omaha.

In addition, Schwarz and Lange were both the bigger-named recruits, and equally big reasons why Florida's recruiting class was ranked third and LSU's fifth for the 2014-15 school year.

And then you get to Brendan McKay, who didn't enter the season as an everyday starter, or even a member of Louisville's weekend rotation, but quickly opened eyes and commanded a much more integral role. More importantly, he did so on both sides of the ball, quickly affirming himself as the team's Saturday starter behind ace Kyle Funkhouser as well as their cleanup hitter and everyday first baseman.

And if you go back and read Perfect Game's pre-draft report on McKay leading up to the 2014 draft it shouldn't be all that surprising:

If dominating performance at the high school level counts for anything, then McKay ranks on the same plateau with the elite prep pitching prospects in this year’s draft. The 6-foot-2 lefty has enjoyed a spectacular four-year career at Blackhawk High, posting a 28-1 record overall while allowing only 13 earned runs. He opened his senior season with the first of his two 20-strikeout games in 2014, and with a 6-0, 0.00 record, along with 98 strikeouts and just eight walks through his first 41 innings, had extended his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 65—third all-time among high school pitchers. McKay even took time out from his busy high school schedule this spring to temporarily join the Langley Blaze, a high-profile travel team from British Columbia, on its annual spring-training trip to Arizona, and dominated there as well, averaging two strikeouts an inning in games against minor league teams from the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds farm systems. McKay may not have enough raw stuff to justify going in the top two or three rounds as his fastball normally ranges between 89-91 mph, and often dips to 85-87, but he throws strikes and has exceptional feel for his secondary stuff; a nasty curve is his dominant strikeout pitch. If McKay honors his commitment to Louisville, he could well be a dominant two-way player at the college level as he hit more than .400 in his first three seasons in high school, and has excellent strength and lift in his swing.

When you ask McKay about his early success, his response is much more succinct.

“It's the ability to play the game, having great coaches that have a lot of trust in you to play the game well knowing that you can perform at any level,” McKay said of his early success to Perfect Game in a phone interview last week.

McKay was one of the hotter rising prospect across the nation coming out of high school as the 2014 draft approached, but scouts still weren't convinced that he could succeed on a regular basis in professional baseball given his lack of elite competition. He also didn't travel a whole lot, although he did make the most of his one Perfect Game based tournament event that he attended, the 2013 WWBA World Championship.

There McKay played for the DBacks Elite Team BC, a team largely comprised of players from British Columbia, players he knew well in his time spent with the Langley Blaze. He was named to the All-Tournament team after his dominant Jupiter performance in which he struck out 10 in 4 2/3 innings.

So when McKay fell to the 34
th round of the 2014 draft (San Diego Padres), honoring his commitment to Louisville was a no-brainer.

“The coaching staff we have is amazing,” McKay said of his decision to go to college. “We added two new coaches this year and they came in and fit in very well. They took over their jobs perfectly, working with our hitters, outfielders and infielders well. We just had a lot of great players as a team coming back from last year and a lot of freshmen that contributed as well this year.”

McKay of course stood at the forefront of those freshmen, recording four saves early in the season before Head Coach Dan McDonnell decided to insert McKay into a weekend starting role. And after a bumpy start to the season for the Cardinals, from that point on the team hit cruise control.

After two weekends of play early in the season Louisville sat at 3-3, coming off of a disappointing series that they lost against Arkansas State at Perfect Game's new state-of-the-art LakePoint Sports facility in Emerson, Ga. From there they quickly turned things around, finishing the year 47-18 overall while going an astonishing 25-5 in conference play, their first year in the power-packed Atlantic Coast Conference.

They won each and every in-conference series they played, and did so twice late in the season against Clemson and Florida State after losing the first game of the series. That is where McKay, the team's Saturday starter, stepped in.

For as good as Schwarz's and Lange's numbers are, McKay can boast just as impressive numbers. On the mound he went 9-3 with a 1.77 ERA, striking out 117 and allowing just 34 walks and 53 hits in 96 2/3 innings of work.

At the plate he hit .308, but more impressively posted a .418 on-base percentage, hitting 18 extra-base hits with 32 runs scored and 34 driven in. In doing so he not only stabilized the weekend starting staff but also the everyday lineup.

However, for as good as McKay's season, and that of his Louisville Cardinals, was, their season ended in heart-breaking fashion at the hands of Cal State Fullerton. The Titans upset the host Cardinals in Louisville in their best-of-three Super Regional matchup, which included a pair of extra-inning losses.

While such a crushing defeat may take the wind out of the sails of most young players, McKay and his teammates saw it as an opportunity to bond and learn from their mistakes.

“We talked a little bit the two days we were there after we lost (the Super Regional),” McKay said. “Things didn't end how we wanted them to but still we were right there the whole time. We just needed to make a few more plays or (get) a few more hits at key times.”

Now McKay is pitching sparingly this summer for the Collegiate National Team, where he's working on his changeup while continuing to play with and against the best players in the nation in a two-way role. While most seem to agree that his future is brighter on the mound, you can't deny his impact at the plate.

If it were up to the no-nonsense yet soft-spoken McKay he would much rather prefer keep doing both.

“I love to do both. It's a great experience to be able to pitch and hit at the collegiate level.”



2015 Perfect Game College First Team Freshmen All-Americans

Pos. Name School AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C J.J. Schwarz Florida .332 .398 .629 60 85 16 3 18 73 1
1B K.J. Harrison Oregon State .309 .401 .527 40 68 12 3 10 60 1
2B Bryson Brigman San Diego .339 .395 .436 39 74 11 2 2 28 5
3B Carl Stajduhar New Mexico .322 .386 .545 45 75 21 2 9 53 1
SS Kevin Smith Maryland .273 ..358 .422 55 68 14 1 7 35 11
OF Kel Johnson Georgia Tech .298 .369 .570 27 45 9 1 10 34 0
OF Reed Rohlman Clemson .356 .412 .466 43 84 17 0 3 58 3
OF Keston Hiura UC Irvine .330 .392 .520 40 75 18 2 7 52 1
DH Connor Wanhanen Texas Christian .329 .420 .389 42 71 4 3 1 40 11
UT Brendan McKay Louisville .308 .418 .431 32 65 14 0 4 34 4













Pos. Name School ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB BAA
SP Alex Lange Louisiana State 1.97 12-0 2 0 114 87 131 46 .212
SP Tyler Wilson Rhode Island 2.16 6-3 2 0 87.1 57 75 27 .184
SP Drew Rasmussen Oregon State 2.80 7-4 2 0 106 86 82 30 .223
SP Tanner Houck Missouri 3.49 8-5 1 0 100.2 88 91 12 .233
SP Chris Mathewson Long Beach St. 1.94 6-6 2 0 93 61 80 24 .187
RP Seth Romero Houston 1.94 7-4 1 7 83.1 61 92 22 .201
RP Dylan Moore Louisiana 1.60 3-3 0 13 50.2 39 40 16 .205
UT Brendan McKay Louisville 1.77 9-3 0 4 96.2 53 117 34 .159


2015 Perfect Game College Second Team Freshmen All-Americans

Pos. Name School AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Matt Whatley Oral Roberts .355 .437 .528 56 76 16 3 5 44 16
1B Austin Edens Samford .357 .442 .662 48 76 17 0 16 54 4
2B Kyle Davis West Virginia .353 .391 .491 40 79 17 1 4 31 4
3B Will Toffey Vanderbilt .294 .380 .420 45 75 20 0 4 49 8
SS Jake Bivens Michigan .319 .435 .352 43 68 7 0 0 19 9
OF Jeren Kendall Vanderbilt .281 .394 .530 34 52 10 6 8 40 19
OF Pavin Smith Virginia .307 .373 .467 38 83 14 4 7 44 2
OF Stuart Fairchild Wake Forest .349 .429 .497 31 68 14 0 5 41 12
DH Colton Shaver BYU .313 .405 .595 38 61 16 0 13 42 1
UT Sean Watkins Loyola Marymount .266 .331 .455 22 38 7 1 6 22 1













Pos. Name School ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB BAA
SP Michael Baumann Jacksonville 2.24 7-1 0 0 84.1 68 85 28 .221
SP Griffin Canning UCLA 2.97 7-1 0 0 73.1 62 68 30 .230
SP Brian Brown NC State 2.03 7-3 0 0 79.2 59 78 26 .211
SP Gunner Leger Louisiana 2.99 6-5 0 0 114.1 104 87 20 .240
SP John Gavin Cal State Fullerton 3.66 7-3 0 0 86 81 67 25 .248
RP Kyle Wright Vanderbilt 1.23 6-1 0 4 58.2 36 62 23 .180
RP Mitch Hickey Oregon State 2.28 4-1 0 11 27.2 19 21 17 .204
UT Sean Watkins Loyola Marymount 1.89 4-1 0 0 57 41 49 23 .201

 Give us your feedback
Copyright 1994-2019 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.