McKay, Rays' Draft pick, wins Howser Trophy

Honor for best college player goes to Louisville pitcher/first baseman

McKay, Rays' Draft pick, wins Howser Trophy

Brendan McKay's dream week continued Friday when the Louisville two-way star and Tampa Bay Rays' first-round Draft pick was awarded the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the best player in college baseball.

The accolade was just the latest in a banner week for McKay, the consensus top college talent in the Draft whom the Rays selected No. 4 overall. McKay was long considered a candidate to be the top overall pick after a junior season in which he dominated on both sides of the field, pitching and playing first base, like few others have.

McKay was the first college player taken in Monday's first round, and the Rays have said they'll let him experiment in the Minor Leagues as a two-way player.

"The question never stops, man," McKay said following the announcement on MLB Network. "I still really don't know. We'll have to find out what works. If everything works out we can possibly still be swinging and throwing. When it comes down to it, we'll figure out what we're doing."

It certainly worked for McKay in college. The left-handed-throwing, left-handed-hitting McKay won three consecutive John Olerud Awards, given annually to the nation's best two-way player, over his three years at Louisville. McKay has won three National Player of the Year awards, been named a finalist for this year's Golden Spikes Award, and this weekend leads his team into the College World Series.

A native of Darlington, Pa., McKay emerged as the top two-way player in the nation as a freshman in 2015. This season, he set a school record with 140 strikeouts in 104 innings on the mound, to go along with a 10-3 record and 2.34 ERA. He's a starter with a fastball that reaches 94 mph and a plus curveball, with a changeup that has the potential to improve.

At the plate, McKay earned Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year honors by hitting .343 with 17 home runs and a .464 on-base percentage. He's an advanced hitter with a solid approach and hits to all fields. Last summer, McKay led the U.S. college national team in hitting (.326) and on-base percentage (.434).

In his college career, McKay is 31-10 with a 2.15 ERA and on the mound, and a .327 hitter with 27 home runs at the plate.

All of which made him the highest-drafted two-way college player since Dave Winfield in 1973. McKay is the first player in Louisville history to win the Dick Howser Trophy, which was first awarded to Mike Fiore of the University of Miami in 1987.

Current Major Leaguers who have won the award include Kris Bryant, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg and David Price.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.