A's top pick McKinney: Being drafted by Oakland 'surreal'
Bob Melvin: "For a high school kid, he didn't look like a high school kid. He hit it like a college player." (AP)
OAKLAND -- Sure, Billy McKinney had taken batting practice in a big league stadium before. But this was his first time doing it as an actual professional baseball player. So yeah, there were some nerves, especially with A's manager Bob Melvin serving as the B.P. pitcher for Oakland's top draft pick before the A's eventual 3-2 loss to Seattle on Friday.
Until the left handed-hitting McKinney started driving balls over the fence.
"I was just trying to flick my wrists and it felt good," said McKinney, who was given a locker-for-the-day next to Bartolo Colon, who signed his first pro baseball contract more than a year before McKinney was born.
"They left the yard so I was pretty happy that happened. I just tried to put my same swing on it every time."
The A's announced Friday that McKinney, who recently graduated from Plano West High School in Texas and had orally committed play college baseball at TCU, agreed to undisclosed terms, which reportedly included a $1.8-million signing bonus.
The No. 24 overall draft pick, who batted .372 with four home runs, 17 RBI and a .585 on-base percentage as a high school senior, impressed his new bosses.
"Any time a high school kid can hit it out, it's exciting," said A's general manager Billy Beane, who said that McKinney was one of the top two high school players in the draft.
A's director of scouting Eric Kubota said McKinney reminded Oakland of Mark Kotsay.
"For a high school kid, he didn't look like a high school kid," Melvin said. "He hit it like a college player."
A's starter Tommy Milone did not have a lot to study when it came to breaking down Mariners rookie catcher Mike Zunino, who made his big league debut two days ago.
"Some video," Milone said. "Four at-bats against a righty."
It was on Zunino's third plate-appearance Friday that he truly made Milone's acquaintance, taking the lefty deep to dead center on a 1-and-1 change-up in the seventh inning that gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead and put Milone on the hook for the loss.
[RECAP: Mariners 3, A's 2]
"I knew that he was aggressive," Milone said, "but that was it."
Milone, it should be noted, has received three or fewer runs of support in nine of his 14 starts.
Was Nate Freiman getting thrown out at home plate in the second inning on him, or on third-base coach Mike Gallego?
Freiman, at second with a double, came to third on Derek Norris' line drive to shallow center and Freiman was given the stop sign by Gallego. But as soon as Seattle center fielder Michael Saunders bobbled the ball, Gallego re-started Freiman, who had already come to a near-stop. Saunders' throw was relayed by shortstop Brendan Ryan and the head-first diving Freiman was tagged out on the shoulder by Zunino.
Maybe Gallego should not have sent the lumbering Freiman, but Freiman took the blame for a slow start.
"The difference between being safe and out was not (what happened) at third," he said. "I've got to get a better read off the bat next time."
Freiman paused on a ball hit directly behind him.