Brendan McKay completed his historic three-year career in college baseball this season and now he’s already making history as a professional.
The fourth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft signed with the Tampa Bay Rays for a record-setting bonus of $7,007,500 — the highest bonus since baseball’s current draft signing system went into effect in 2012.
Entering the 2017 draft, the previous mark for signing bonus was set by Kris Bryant with the Chicago Cubs, as the now All-Star signed for $6,708,400 in 2013. That mark was broken already in 2017 when the Atlanta Braves signed former Vanderbilt pitcher Kyle Wright for a flat $7 million bonus after selecting him with the No. 5 overall pick.
But McKay, taken one spot earlier, broke that mark when he signed on June 27. He is expected to spend his first professional season as a hitter, although his two-way ability makes him an intriguing prospect.
McKay went 11-3 with a 2.56 ERA and a Louisville-record 146 strikeouts in his final season. He matched the impressive work on the mound at the plate, hitting .341 with 18 homers, 15 doubles and 57 RBIs to win the ACC player of the year award.
He ended his career at Louisville with 32 wins a 2.23 ERA and a school-record 391 strikeouts. He hit 28 homers, 48 doubles and knocked in 132 runs as a batter.
McKay was a three-time winner of the John Olerud Award, given annually to the best two-way player in college ball. Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball magazine both chose him as their 2017 Player of the Year.