Brendan McKay left. Photo by Atruro Pardavila III

Pennsylvania Legion alum drafted fourth; named Golden Spikes finalist

University of Louisville star Brendan McKay, a former American Legion Baseball player for the Blackhawk team in Beaver Falls, Pa., earned two big accolades this week.

A pitcher and first baseman, McKay was the first collegiate player drafted in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, selected fourth by the Tampa Bay Rays.

“He’s probably the first guy in as long as we can remember that has qualified on both sides of the ball to do this,” said Rays General Manager Erik Neander. “This is a very rare talent.”

McKay was also named a finalist for the 40th Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball annually. The award selects the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport.

Former Legion players Bryce Harper (2010), Kris Bryant (2013) and AJ Reed (2014) are recent former winners of the Golden Spikes Award.

McKay led Blackhawk to the Pennsylvania Legion tournament in 2013 and helped the strong program continue its growth. Last year, Blackhawk qualified for the American Legion Baseball Mid-Atlantic Regional.

“He loved playing for his high school, he played for his Legion team up there just north of Pittsburgh. He was not that showcase-type scene kid, it wasn’t all about ‘me,’ ” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell told and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “These days, a lot of high school kids chase player rankings, go to showcases all over the country to be seen in the summer. Brendan never really did much of that, and you know why? Because his goal was to win an American Legion state championship with his buddies.”