LAS VEGAS - A nice honor today for Orioles outfield prospect Ryan McKenna. He was named to the 2018 Arizona Fall League Top Prospects Team. The team is selected by AFL managers and coaches to recognize players that excelled during the six-week season.
In 17 games with Glendale, the 21-year-old McKenna hit .344/.474/.590. He scored 16 runs and produced six doubles, three triples, a homer and nine RBIs. He hit .383 against right-handed pitchers and finished second in the AFL with an OPS of 1.064. Earlier, he was named to the all-AFL team by MLB.com.
In a recent interview, McKenna told me he wanted to meet the challenge in Arizona and show he could hold his own with some of the game’s top prospects.
“One hundred percent,” he said in a phone interview from Florida, where he will work out this offseason. “You’ve got on a big league uniform and you’re playing with players that have been recognized as top prospects, and they’re very talented. There was a relatability. We all come from a similar background, we love the game and it was fun to learn from each other.
“Playing among the best competition, I’ve always had confidence in myself as a player and know I am capable of playing at that level. I’m just glad I had that opportunity.”
McKenna produced five multi-hit games in Arizona, including two four-hit outings, and tripled twice on Oct. 20. He ranked sixth in the league in batting average and was second in OBP, slugging and OPS. He had an eight-game hitting streak from Oct. 19-31.
“Obviously, you learn when you play at a higher level, and I took some things I learned at Bowie,” McKenna said of his strong play in the AFL. “That couple of weeks (before the fall season began) really let my body relax and recover. Health-wise, I felt pretty good energy. And it was a great environment, too. Great weather, great people around you, lot of positivity. That goes a long way, and a lot of knowledgeable players I could talk to.”
McKenna began this season at Single-A Frederick and hit .377/.467/.556 in 67 games with the Keys. He moved to Double-A Bowie in late June and hit .239/.341/.338 with the Baysox. But he got it going again in the AFL, a nice jump start for him for the 2019 season, when he probably will return to Bowie to start the year.
But McKenna sure put himself on the O’s radar with a breakout 2018 season and he earned another honor for that today.