Moving forward with our coverage of the 2018 MLB Draft, let’s stick with the college ranks with a look at left-handed pitcher Shane McClanahan from the University of South Florida.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, McClanahan went to high school in Cape Coral, Florida, where he drew notice for his athleticism and projectability. He lasted until the 26th round in the 2015 draft due to signability concerns. At the time he was listed at 6-1, 165, and topped his fastball out about 92 MPH. The New York Mets selected him but he chose to honor his commitment to the University of South Florida.
Injury intervened and he missed all of 2016 following Tommy John surgery, taking a freshman redshirt. He came back in 2017 without ill effect, posting a 3.20 ERA in 76 innings with a 104/36 K/BB and a mere 48 hits allowed. The numbers weren’t lying about his stuff and McClanahan entered 2018 as a likely first round pick.
2018 has been similar to 2017: a 2.84 ERA in 63 innings thus far with a 107/34 K/BB and only 35 hits allowed. His walk rate is a little higher this year but his strikeout rate has jumped from excellent to insane: he’s whiffing 15.21 men per nine innings.
McClanahan has added strength since high school, now checking in at 6-2, 188. Physical maturity is reflected in his fastball: he’s hit 100 at times and works anywhere between 92 and 98 depending on the game situation. Even when not maxing out the gun, his fastball moves well.
His second pitch is an impressive and consistent plus-quality change-up which makes his harder stuff all the more effective. His third pitch is a slider; this pitch is less refined than the change-up and has a wider variance of outcomes, ranging from a meh/blah slurve in his weaker games to a plus breaker in his stronger outings.
When the slider is working right, he’s almost unhittable.
McClanahan still has some command issues to work through and there are some observers who feel he will be a reliever in the long run. That said, we are looking at a guy with a good shot at having three plus pitches from the left side and guys like that need to start as long as possible. As long as his health holds up, I think he’s a starter.
Draft-wise, McClanahan was viewed as a possible top five pick two months ago. His stock has vacillated a bit due to a few games when his command slipped but he will still go in the first round and could still be the first college lefty drafted, possibly the second college arm drafted overall after Auburn ace Casey Mize.
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