- Full name Jacob Daniel McGee
- Born 08/06/1986 in San Jose, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'4" / Wt.: 229 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School Edward C. Reed
- Debut 09/14/2010
Drafted in the 5th round (135th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004 (signed for $215,000).
View Draft ReportThe 6-foot-3 McGee is more thrower than pitcher at this stage, but has considerable upside. His command of a 90-91 mph fastball was spotty and he rarely held his velocity into the middle innings.
Organization Prospect Rankings
McGee was one of the top lefty pitching prospects in the minors when he blew out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery in June 2008. After working his way back to the mound for 30 innings in 2009, McGee climbed two levels last season and made his major league debut in September. McGee hasn't shown any negative effects from reconstructive elbow surgery. He generates tremendous late action on his fastball, which jumped to 92-95 mph and peaked at 97 when he moved to the bullpen at midseason. His breaking ball is a power curve that becomes slurvy when he gets under it. His changeup has the potential to be at least an average pitch. Command and consistency were issues prior to his injury, but he has shown better feel for all of his offerings since his return. A starter in 128 of his first 129 games as a pro, McGee was very effective as a reliever after reaching Triple-A. With the Rays' bullpen expected to undergo a complete overhaul in 2011, he should claim a regular role and could emerge as a closer in the near future.
McGee was one of the best lefthanded pitching prospects in the minors when he blew out his elbow in June 2008 and had Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound a year later, showing flashes of his former stuff while working short stints. Prior to his injury, McGee has a mid-90s fastball that touched 98 mph and a hard three-quarters breaking ball with good tilt. If last summer is any indication, he should get those pitches back. He also has shown good feel for a changeup that has the makings of a plus pitch. McGee struggled with his control prior to the injury, and control is often the last thing to come back following Tommy John surgery. The consistency of his release point has fluctuated throughout his career. From a command standpoint, he needs to pound the bottom half of strike zone better. If he can't improve his ability to locate his pitches, his future may be as a reliever. The Rays were thrilled McGee got in some innings in 2009, which should allow this season to be devoted to development instead of rehabilitation. Ticketed for Double-A, he's still just 23 and has time to become a significant part of Tampa Bay's big league pitching staff.
After ranking fourth in the minors with 175 strikeouts in 2007, McGee returned to Double-A and was inconsistent prior to tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow on June 22. He underwent Tommy John surgery in July and is expected to be sidelined for at least a year. Few lefthanders have better stuff than a healthy McGee, who has a fastball that resides in the mid-90s and touches 98. He also throws a power threequarters breaking ball with good tilt. He has improved his changeup to where it shows signs of becoming a plus pitch when he trusts it. Aside from getting healthy, McGee must pitch down in the strike zone with more consistency. He struggled with his release point and control early in 2008, and he battles his fastball command when he tries to reach back for something extra. The feel for his changeup comes and goes, which detracts from his confidence in the pitch. McGee isn't expected to be ready to begin pitching until after midseason. The Rays have no need to rush him, though they hope to get him on the mound in 2008 because pitchers usually make their greatest strides in their second year after Tommy John surgery.
After leading the low Class A Midwest League with 171 strikeouts in 134 innings during a breakout 2006, McGee followed up by ranking fourth in the minors with 175 whiffs in 140 innings. He continued his friendly rivalry with fellow 2004 draftee Wade Davis, though Davis beat him to Double-A. Once McGee got to Montgomery in August, he had no trouble overpowering hitters there. McGee has a nasty fastball that managers rated as the best in the high Class A Florida State League. His heater sits at 93-95 mph and touches 98 with impressive movement. His slider has good tilt and he has improved the depth and fade on his changeup. He dominates lefthanders, who hit just .147 with two homers against him in 2007. McGee is still working on mastering his secondary pitches, though both have the makings of becoming plus offerings. He was erratic with his changeup early last season and doesn't fully trust it. He struggles with the command of his slider and also has trouble locating his fastball when he overthrows. Scouts believe McGee could be a power reliever if he can't refine his changeup. At this point, he'll remain a potential No. 2 starter and keep the Rays dreaming about the day they'll have three power lefties in David Price, Scott Kazmir and McGee in their rotation. He'll likely return to Double-A to open 2008.
McGee's 2006 breakout was nearly as impressive as Reid Brignac's. In his first taste of full-season ball, he was the most impressive member of a talented low Class A Southwest Michigan staff that also included Wade Davis and Matt Walker. Managers rated McGee's fastball as the best in the Midwest League, and he led both the MWL and Rays farmhands in strikeouts. McGee has an advanced feel for pitching, particularly for a lefthander who spent most of 2006 as a teenager. He has added velocity to his fastball, now popping 90-94 mph consistently and touching 96 with above-average life. His curveball and changeup have a chance to become plus offerings. His curve has good tilt and movement, while his changeup has depth and fade. He shows good poise on the mound. McGee tends to battle with the command of his fastball when he tries to reach peak velocity, and he has yet to fully harness his lively stuff. He has worked hard to stay on top of his three-quarters delivery in order to keep his pitches down in the strike zone. He also needs to refine his secondary pitches. McGee is developing as hoped as he continues to mature physically. He'll spend the 2007 at high Class A Vero Beach and could blossom into a No. 2 starter.
A fifth-round pick in 2004, McGee was Rookie-level Princeton's pitcher of the year in his pro debut and followed up by finishing second to Wade Davis in the New York-Penn League strikeout race in 2005. McGee has added 15 pounds to his 6-foot-3 frame since signing without sacrificing the good body control that allows him to repeat his delivery. He also has improved the quality of his pitches and his confidence. McGee has one of the best curveballs in the minors, an overhand bender that can be unhittable. He adds and subtracts from his curve, varying its velocity from 69-77 mph. His only problem with the pitch is that it breaks so much that lower-level umpires don't always call it for strikes. McGee does a good job of getting ahead in counts with his 88-92 mph fastball. His changeup needs work but could become a solid-average pitch. McGee's biggest need other than innings is staying on top of his delivery. His future appears bright, and his first shot in a full-season league will come in low Class A this year.
After nabbing McGee in the fifth round last June, the Rays believe the projectable lefty may be one of the biggest steals from the first 10 rounds. In a dozen starts in the Appalachian League and during instructional league, he opened eyes with his overall package. Despite his slender build, McGee held his 88-91 mph velocity throughout the year. His fastball also has plus movement, but his best pitch currently is a sharp curveball with tight spin. He has made significant strides with his changeup, with the pitch displaying nice fade and needing only consistency. McGee is a good athlete with plenty of arm speed and a clean arm action, and he repeats his delivery well. He'll jump up to low Class A in 2005.
Minor League Top Prospects
McGee began the year by teaming with Wade Davis to form arguably the best 1-2 prospect punch in any minor league rotation. McGee battled his control and was solid if not dominant before being shut down in late June with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Before he got hurt, McGee sat at 92-93 mph and touched 97 with his fastball. His slider showed above-average potential, but it was inconsistent in terms of its tilt and the frequency with which he threw it for strikes. He also struggled with his release point, leaving pitches up in the zone too often. McGee remained more thrower than pitcher. He often leaned on his velocity to try to blow his fastball by hitters rather than mix in his offspeed stuff. His changeup won't develop until he uses it more frequently, though he wouldn't need it as much if he became a reliever, which some scouts believe is his destiny.
McGee and teammate Wade Davis have had a friendly rivalry throughout their minor league career. So when Davis got the call to Double-A before McGee, it fired up the lefty. He responded the right way, sharpening his command and throwing back-to-back seven-inning scoreless outings to earn a promotion to rejoin Davis. The FSL strikeout leader with 145 in 117 innings, McGee is blessed with rare velocity for a southpaw, as he sits at 93-95 mph and can touch 98. His fastball rendered lefthanders helpless--they hit .141/.200/.214 against him in the FSL--and Vero Beach manager Joe Szekely said just one lefty managed to get good swings against McGee: Bruce, who went 1-for-4 but hit the ball hard. "To watch those two go after each other was a real pleasure," Szekely said. "It was fun because you knew it was a battle that you could see happening for years to come." McGee's changeup was very erratic early in the season, but he developed more feel and confidence in it as the season went along. His breaking ball has good tilt, though he sometimes struggles to locate it. Both could end up as plus pitches if he improves his command.
Southwest Michigan had three potential aces on its pitching staff, all high school picks from the 2004 draft. McGee has the most electric arm in the league, and as a bonus he's lefthanded. He led the MWL with 171 strikeouts and topped all full-season southpaws by averaging 11.5 whiffs per nine innings. McGee's best pitch is a lively 90-94 mph fastball that touches 96, and he's not afraid to pound it inside against righthanders. His changeup is a step ahead of his curveball at this point, and both should become at least average pitches at time. His stuff moves so much that it's hard to hit but also hard to command, though he should figure that out in time.
If Olson is the league's No. 1 lefthanded pitching prospect, then McGee is No. 1-A. The 19-year-old saw all of his pitches improve as the year progressed, along with his confidence. McGee uses a fastball that sits around 90 mph to get ahead of hitters and a sharp curveball to strike them out. His curve breaks so much that he sometimes has trouble keeping it in the strike zone, but hitters have an equally difficult time laying off of it when they're behind in the count. His changeup is currently below average, and he'll need to improve it to combat righthanders at higher levels.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Fastball in the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008
- Rated Best Fastball in the Florida State League in 2007
- Rated Best Fastball in the Midwest League in 2006