Baltimore Orioles outfield prospect Ryan McKenna has always been on the move.
He was born in Grants Pass, Ore., moved across the country to Berwick, Maine, and attended two different high schools in Dover, N.H. That was all before his minor league baseball journey commenced.
After bypassing his commitment to Liberty University when the Orioles selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, McKenna has played with five different teams in four years.
The constant moves have been hectic, but each one has offered a learning opportunity for a rising talent in the Baltimore organization.
"You have a routine and when you're altered from that and moved into a different group of guys and a different club, it is a little different," McKenna said on
The Bat Around with Stan "The Fan" Charles
McKenna spent an entire season at the same level for his first three years. He played 10 games during rookie ball the year he was drafted before playing in 62 games with Short Season-A Aberdeen in 2016. In 2017, he moved up to full season with Low-A Delmarva.
His batting average stayed relatively consistent through his first three years, sitting as low as .241 and as high as .265.
"The numbers project more learning than anything throughout my journey. You can look at a lot of guys' stats and see certain things," he said. "For me, the numbers aren't necessarily as high as I'd like them. It just means I'm going to be learning for the future."
While he didn't make an in-season move during his first three years in the minors, McKenna finally got a midseason call-up this year after finally breaking through with the High-A Frederick Keys.
The outfielder hit .377 during 67 games for the Keys in 2018, hitting eight home runs. He struck out 45 times with 37 walks, an impressive ratio. That production earned a promotion to Double-A Bowie. He honed in on the learning process with Frederick.
"You learn from the experienced guys that are there and you take away what you can," McKenna said. "You try to learn from every at-bat and get to know the guys there and how they like to pitch you."
Initially, McKenna had a tough time adjusting to Bowie. He played in 60 games and his average dipped to a career-low .239. While his numbers took a sharp decline from his previous level, he said not having an offseason in between changing teams for the first time played a large role.
"It's definitely a little different," he said. "Out of spring training, you're mentally preparing for what you're going to be doing for the whole year. You never know in this game; people get moved around a lot."
McKenna recently played in the Arizona Fall League, where he stood out and outperformed his numbers with Bowie. He hit .348 for the Glendale Desert Dogs, a mark that ranked sixth in the league. His .474 on-base percentage and .590 slugging percentage were surpassed by only one other player in the league.
Looking ahead, the Orioles have committed to a major rebuild after posting a 47-115 record in 2018. They traded some of their best talent ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline in July. Manager Buck Showalter was not brought back after the season, nor was executive vice president Dan Duquette.
Mike Elias was hired to replace Duquette as general manager Nov. 16, and McKenna is looking forward to his potential role in the makeover of the organization.
"It's always good to be a part of the organization," he said. "But I'm excited for a different perspective on it. It seems like we got some good people at the helm, and I'm looking forward to seeing their vision play out."
For more from McKenna, listen to the full interview here: