Players who are drafted in the late rounds of the MLB draft often don’t ever get close to Major League level. Many tend to see those types of players as organizational depth or long term projects that may have a slim chance of just playing a couple of innings in the big leagues.
Don’t tell that to Dodgers prospect Zach McKinstry who was drafted in the 33rd round (1001 overall) during the 2016 MLB draft. McKinstry who has described himself as more of a slap or contact hitter during his time at Central Michigan was passed up by many teams as a Sophomore. He showed he had no problem making contact as he hit .325 with a .415 on-base percentage while leading the team with 24 multiple-hit games as well as a 26-game on-base streak.
McKinstry wasn’t known to hit with power, not hitting a single one in two seasons at Central Michigan with only 14 doubles. However, his contact skills combined with the defensive versatility was enough for the Dodgers to buy into his talent that year. Although he did end up reaching Double-A during his first full season in 2017, he didn’t catch the eye of many Dodger fans until 2019.
Last season saw a whole new version of the former Chippewa. After finally growing into his 6’0, 180-pound frame, McKinstry had a break out year in which he hit .300/.365/.516 to go along with 19 home runs, 24 doubles, and 78 RBI. That kind of sizeable production warranted the Dodgers to include him on the 40-man roster as well as this season’s 60-man roster. He didn’t stop his unexpected turnaround there as he shined during Spring Training as well as in the recent intrasquad games. Most notably he accomplished something he wouldn’t have been able to do just a couple years ago; he hit an opposite-field home run against the Angels.
His constant productivity on both sides of the ball hasn’t gone unnoticed, catching the eye of manager Dave Roberts saying he’s only “an injury away,” per NBC’s reporter Michael J. Duarte, from being a big leaguer.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) July 22, 2020
In any other season, on any other team, the 25-year-old IN/OF would no doubt crack the Opening Day roster. While Roberts may surprise us with the inclusion of the Dodgers’ 20th ranked prospect, odds are it won’t happen. McKinstry’s exclusion from it is just a testament to just how loaded the Dodgers are with talent, especially after the long-term signing of Mookie Betts. While McKinstry will report to the Dodgers’ alternate training site to start the season, it’s only a matter of when, not if he’ll get his chance to make his debut in such crazy year. This kid is just too talented and driven to not make an impact at some point this season.