Righthander Zach McCambley grew up in the shadow of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, and while the winter scenery there was snowy-white and postcard-perfect, his life was decidedly blue collar.
For all four years of his time at Pocono Mountain East High, McCambley juggled school and baseball with a weekend job at Desaki Restaurant.
“I had to clean the grills, bring out the appetizers,” McCambley said. “I had to grind.”
That work ethic has served McCambley, who committed to Coastal Carolina in 2015, one year before the Chanticleers won the College World Series.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound McCambley worked as Coastal Carolina’s Friday starter as a junior. He was having the best season of his life—1.80 ERA, 32 strikeouts and seven walks in 25 innings—when the pandemic stopped everything.
The Marlins made him their third-round pick, and McCambley spent much of the offseason at the organization’s complex in Jupiter, Fla.
“He has a fastball 92-95 (mph) and the ability to spin the breaking ball. Those are two major league pitches,” Marlins pitching coordinator Scott Aldred said. “We’ve been working on his changeup, and it’s coming around.”
Coastal coach Gary Gilmore first met McCambley and his father Mike when they made an unannounced visit to the Chanticleers’ stadium.
The McCambley family would vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C., every year, and that’s how they got to following the Coastal program.
Gilmore saw McCambley pitch initially at a New Jersey tournament.
“Even though he didn’t have tremendous command at that time, he had an outstanding breaking ball with late depth,” Gilmore said. “It’s hard to pick up, coming out of the same tunnel as his fastball.
“His talent is as good as it gets here. I think his fastball will grow to 96-98 (mph), and his breaking ball is different than what other people have.”
McCambley said his curve was self-taught, and he has used the same grip since age 13. The same is not true for his changeup.
“I’ve finally settled on a (changeup) grip,” he said, “but it’s been endless work.”
Just like the old days at Desaki Restaurant.
— Aldred was impressed this winter by 22-year-old righthander Kyle Nicolas, the Marlins’ 2020 second-rounder out of Ball State.
“He’s got a real good arm, and his second pitches are good,” Aldred said. “He has to throw more strikes, and time will tell if he can get that accomplished.”