Freshman Spotlight: North Carolina State’s Chance Mako Comes With Tantalizing Upside


Image credit: Chance Mako (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

The name Chance Mako has been a popular one within the scouting community for quite some time, and for good reason. The lanky 6-foot-7 righthander starred for three years at East Rowan High School (Salisbury, N.C.), culminating in a strong senior season in which he pitched his way to a spotless 7-0 record with a 2.77 ERA and 102 strikeouts across 60.2 innings. There had long been draft buzz surrounding Mako, and while there was interest in the first three-to-five rounds, he decided to run with the Wolfpack.

Good Clay

As a pitcher, Mako is the definition of “good clay.” He has plenty of size in his towering frame, ample room to add physicality, and above-average present stuff. Mako is an imposing figure on the mound and attacks hitters from a three-quarter slot with serious arm speed. He features a fastball, slider and changeup with both the heater and slider flashing plus potential. Mako will pitch in the 89-92 range with his fastball, but has run it up to 94. It misses bats and boasts a fair amount of arm-side run with life through the zone. As his frame continues to fill out, it is easy to envision the pitch eventually sitting in the mid-90s.

Mako’s slider is a sharp, high-spin pitch with some teeth, and one with which he generates his fair share of swings and misses. His low-80s changeup is the least refined of the three, but it has shown positive flashes. Being able to consistently repeat his delivery, which will lead to improved command and strike-throwing ability, will be key for Mako going forward.

Looking Ahead

Looking towards this spring, Mako is likely to log most of his innings out of the bullpen. Coach Avent and company return several arms from last year’s staff, including Sam Highfill (6-4, 4.83 ERA), Matt Willadsen (5-5, 3.78 ERA), and Logan Whitaker (5-3, 4.29 ERA). They also return electric lefthander Dominic Fritton (3-4, 3.59 ERA) who figures to earn a weekend starting spot. Nonetheless, Coach Avent has not been afraid in the past to rely on freshmen, and Mako will have an opportunity to carve out a meaningful role.

Following his rookie campaign, Mako is slated to pitch for the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod League. No matter how he is used this season, there is a high likelihood Mako this summer will be able to prove himself in a starting role. It is no secret he has a tantalizing amount of upside and a high ceiling. If he can put it all together and earn a weekend starter spot in 2025, there is a chance for him to be selected somewhere within the first 100 picks of the draft.

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