OAKLAND — Billy McKinney started his professional career Friday afternoon, standing in the left-handed batters box and took batting practice from A's manager Bob Melvin.
Earlier in the day McKinney, the A's first-round pick in the draft, finalized his contract, just shortly after graduation from Plano West High in Texas. The left-handed hitting outfielder celebrated by hitting a few pitches into the cheap seats between 3:30-4 p.m.
"I thought I would feel butterflies, but after two swings it was just baseball,'' McKinney, who met Melvin, some of the coaches and a few of the players, including Yoenis Cespedes and Adam Rosales.
"I met this great big guy, I don't know what his name is,'' McKinney said. "I've never met anyone so big in my life. He is massive.''
That would be first baseman Nate Freiman, the 6-foot-8 part-time first baseman.
If Friday had been a normal day, the A's would have taken batting practice as a team and McKinney would have been part of that. It wasn't, not after having played 18 innings against the Yankees Thursday, so batting practice was canceled.
On the other hand, that meant that the A's could give their full focus to McKinney, who hit .372 with four homers and 17 RBIs as a senior for Plano West and was rated as one of the best high school hitters in the 2013 draft.
"For a high school kid, he didn't look like a high school kid,'' Melvin said. "He looked comfortable swinging the wooden bat.''
General manager Billy Beane said the club like him as one of "the best hitters in the draft."
For his part, McKinney said he and his parents rushed out to rent "Moneyball,'' that semi-accurate tale of the A's 2002 season under Beane.
"It was an awesome movie,'' McKinney said.
McKinney starts with the A's rookie league team in Phoenix Saturday morning.