Showcase | Story | 8/19/2012

Progressing one report at a time

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- There are several ways to follow the progression of a prospect from the time he's a 14-year-old incoming high school freshman through the two years until he's a more fully developed, 16-year-old that has just begun his junior year.

In the case of Ankeny (Iowa) High School elite prospect Keaton McKinney, the easiest path to follow is to take a look at his Perfect Game Player Profile and read the assortment of scouting reports the PG staff has complied since McKinney first attended the 2010 PG Midwest Underclass Showcase Aug. 28-29 at Perfect Game Field-Veterans Memorial Stadium.

McKinney, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-handed pitcher and right-handed swinging first baseman,  was back at Perfect Game Field Saturday and Sunday for the PG Midwest Top Prospect Showcase, an event enjoying its 14th year. It is running simultaneously with the PG Midwest Underclass Showcase, the event McKinney attended as a 14-year-old two years ago.

"I just wanted to come out and play because I really haven't played much lately," McKinney said from the visitor's dugout at PG Field. "I just wanted to have some good competition and there are a lot of good guys over here. I really like going to these showcase type of things."

This is the ninth PG event McKinney has attended -- he is also a veteran of the PG Iowa Spring and Fall Wood Bat Leagues -- and his sixth showcase since that 2010 debut at the Midwest Underclass. McKinney was listed at 6-3, 197-pounds, in August, 2010, and his fastball sat in the 82-84 mph range, topping out at 84.

The report from that event noted that McKinney had "a tall athletic frame, good baseball body" and called him a "versatile two-way prospect" with "a chance to be a very high-level hitting prospect." It also stated that he "may have as much upside on the mound (with) good quick compact arm action." It concluded that he will be a "very interesting prospect to follow."

Fast-forward to the 2011 PG National Games-Class of 2013 held at the University of San Diego in mid-August. McKinney was then listed at 6-4, 205, and that PG scouting report noted that he was "very strong for his age" with a "long and strong swing" that "generates bat speed with extension out front."

His fastball was then sitting at 84-86 and the report noted that the fastball had "nice sink and run, even better sink/run on a potential plus change up."

Finally, just as his 2012 summer high school season at Ankeny High was getting into full swing, McKinney was selected to perform at the Perfect Game Junior National Showcase at the Metrodome in Minneapolis in mid-June.

Then listed at 6-5, 210, his fastball was sitting at 84-88 and topped out at 90. While the scouting report from that event once again made mention of his "long and strong swing" it also noted that he "might be a better long-term pitcher, slow-paced delivery, accelerates to the plate."

McKinney was thrilled to be part of that event, and with his strong progression and as the No. 72-ranked national prospect in the 2014 class, it's likely he'll be invited to next year's Perfect Game National Showcase for class of 2014 seniors.

"All of the top players from everywhere got to go to Minnesota and play in the Metrodome and it was awesome," McKinney said. "Pitching against guys that you hear about from all over the country is really a fun experience."

McKinney was back in Minneapolis attending a Minnesota Twins-sponsored scouting showcase at Target Field on Friday where he did some pitching. Because of that workout, he did not throw at this event.

He took part in BP session Saturday morning where he "showed good bat speed" and "has pop in his bat with a fluid stroke and leverage in his swing" according to a PG blog entry, and later hit a solo home run in the first of two games he played here.

"These are beneficial for sure," McKinney said of the showcase experiences. "They've gotten me more recognition than I could have ever gotten (without them) and it's helped a lot."

He also received a lot of recognition this summer as an all-state member of Ankeny's Iowa Class 4A state championship team. The Hawks finished 43-2 after winning the state title, and earned the No. 20 spot in the final Perfect Game Great Plains Region rankings (the Great Plains Region includes high school teams from Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri).

McKinney hit .406 (56-for-138) for the Hawks, with three home runs, 18 total extra base hits and a team-high 51 RBI. He was 7-0 on the mound with a 1.75 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched.

"Our team, from top-to-bottom, there's not a weak spot (in the lineup)," McKinney said of the Hawks. "Our team is just fun and we had a lot of good chemistry and were just red-hot the whole season."

Several of his Ankeny High teammates were also in attendance at PG Field this weekend. RHP Nick Belzer (2013) -- an Indiana State commit -- 3B Matthew Johnson (2013) and MIF Brent Jones (2014) joined McKinney at the Midwest Top Prospect, and SS Joseph Monosmith (2014) and LHP Nate Schweers (2014) were at the Midwest Underclass.

McKinney has already committed to play college baseball at the University of Arkansas in the powerful Southeastern Conference. He has developed a friendship with Blake Wiggins, a highly ranked 2014 shortstop prospect from Little Rock, Ark., and the two made their visits to Arkansas together before their sophomore years in 2011. They both committed shortly thereafter.

"I just loved it down there; I loved everything about it. The coaches, the field, the atmosphere -- it was pretty sweet," McKinney said. "And playing (in the SEC) is just awesome with all those great fields and all those big crowds."

With two more high school baseball seasons in front of him, no one is a rush to pigeon-hole McKinney as a pitcher or a position player. He will continue to be pegged as a two-way player probably right up until the time he either enrolls at Arkansas or is selected in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

"Everywhere I go I hear something different," he said. "I'm just practicing at both (positions) and I just want to get better and whatever happens, happens."

McKinney has hooked up with Chad Raley and the powerhouse Marucci Elite travel ball program, so there's a chance he could be playing in either the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship Oct. 4-8 in Fort Myers, Fla., or the PG WWBA World Championship Oct. 25-29 in Jupiter, Fla. Marucci Elite is the defending champion at both blockbuster, season-ending tournaments.

Other than that, he's going to relax while concentrating on his two remaining high school seasons and also participating in as many PG events as time allows.

"Since I committed, everything's been taken off my shoulders and I just get to have fun and go out and play baseball," he said.

Expect the PG staff to be hard at work generating even more scouting reports over the next two years.

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