Shane McClanahan Shows Stuff
TAMPA—The top college lefthander in the 2018 MLB Draft class showcased his stuff for more than a dozen scouts Wednesday afternoon, and while it wasn't the most crisp outing, Shane McClanahan showed why he will be one of the most exciting arms next June. During a a University of South Florida scrimmage, McClanahan started the bottom of the first inning by allowing a leadoff ground ball single up the middle to senior outfielder/first baseman Duke Stunkel Jr. before walking the next two batters on six and seven pitches respectively.
After getting into a bases loaded jam with no outs, it seemed inevitable that the Bulls would put up several runs against their ace pitcher—who struck out 104 batters in 76 innings during his redshirt freshman season last spring—but he managed to induce a rare 7-4 double play on a shallow fly ball before striking out sophomore first baseman Carson Ragsdale on three pitches.
McClanahan's strikeout of Ragsdale might have been his most impressive sequence of the day. He started the at-bat with a 96 mph fastball up in the zone, which Ragsdale swung through before spotting an 85 mph changeup with some fading action at the bottom of the zone for a looking strike. Ahead in an 0-2 count, McClanahan reared back and touched 97—his hardest pitch of the day—up and in to get Ragsdale swinging once more and end the inning.
After dealing with baserunners for the entirety of the first inning, McClanahan made quick work of his second inning, sitting down each batter he faced with a pair of fly outs and a groundout to shortstop.
Over two innings McClanahan pitched in the mid 90s with his fastball, although his last three heaters came across the USF scoreboard at 90 mph, 91 and 92. He went to a mid-to-upper 80s changeup most often after his fastball, generating one swing and miss with the pitch as well as a groundout. Additionally, McClanahan threw a low-80s biting curveball that flashed two-plane break. He also left the pitch up in the zone at times, which may be attributable to the low, three-quarter arm slot he throws from, making it more difficult to consistently get on top of the ball.
You can see McClanahan's first inning in its entirety in the video above.
McClanahan's collegiate career was delayed a year as he recovered from Tommy John surgery during 2016, but his redshirt freshman campaign was more than enough to put him back on the radar for the 2018 draft. He posted a 3.20 ERA over 15 starts and led the American Athletic Conference in strikeouts per nine innings with a 12.32 mark. He also led in opponents batting average (.181). McClanahan shot up draft boards during the spring of his senior year in high school after a significant growth spurt and velocity to go with it. He was ranked the No. 197 overall prospect in the 2015 class.
While his control was poor Wednesday, it's safe to say he'll rank higher than 197 next June.
Notes from USF Baseball Stadium:
• While the aforementioned Carson Ragsdale did strike out while facing McClanahan, he showed some power against junior lefthander Andrew Perez in the bottom of the fourth inning with a no-doubt home run to left field on a fastball that ran back over the middle of the plate. You can watch the full at-bat below:
• Andrew Perez is an interesting draft prospect in his own right. On Wednesday afternoon he threw an upper-80s fastball with good running action out of a delivery that includes some major cross-fire action. He got three swings and misses on the pitch in his first inning, and showed two distinct breaking balls: an upper-70s curve with top-to-bottom shape and slightly firmer slider at 80 mph with more horizontal movement. Additionally he threw a 76-77 mph changeup, and although his arm speed slowed down noticeably on one such pitch, it flashed good fading action.
• Junior outfielder Garrett Zech is a dynamic up-the-middle talent for USF, starting 57 games in center field as a freshman and 54 last spring as a sophomore. He has above-average speed, stealing 19 bases his first year and 17 his second, and used that tool to cover ground well in Wednesday's scrimmage, making an athletic diving catch in shallow center field. He also led the game off with a hard hit double, rounding first base in 4.72 seconds out of the righthanded batter's box, according to Baseball America's stopwatch. He's a lefthanded thrower and a righthanded hitter, but his 6-foot-4 frame, athleticism and toolset will certainly intrigue teams. Zech ranked No. 110 on the BA500 in 2015 out of high school, but has hit just .254 with one homer in his first two seasons. A strong season with the bat likely would vault him into the first three rounds.
Shane McClanahan Becomes First Pitcher To Make MLB Debut In Postseason
On an otherwise forgettable night for the Rays, they did get one positive, promising glimpse of their future.
Check out this slick diving catch from USF outfielder Garrett Zech: pic.twitter.com/RL2YOO8BIQ— Carlos Collazo (@CarlosACollazo) October 18, 2017
• Junior first baseman Joe Genord showed real, in-game pull power, hitting a no-doubt home run to left field, while junior outfield Chris Chatfield showed some power of his own in batting practice with a lot of natural strength and solid bat speed. Junior righthander Alex Wisely showed a quick arm on the mound, throwing 88-92 mph with an upper-70s changeup and a mid-70s curveball, as well as a solid pickoff move to first.