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2018 Phillies Draft Preview: Shane McClanahan, LHP

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Cincinnati Reds v Philadelphia Phillies
Because there’s no such thing as an available picture of any draft prospect ever, enjoy the Phanatic
Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Shane McClanahan is 6’2” 188 lbs LHP who is a redshirt Sophomore from University of South Florida. He continues this draft’s theme of exciting player with big, flapping red flags. The first of those red flags is hinted at in the first sentence “redshirt”. Shane missed his Freshman year with Tommy John Surgery. The good news with that is he shows no ill effects, as he can crank his fastball as high as 100 mph, which from the port side is pretty unfair for hitters. The second red flag gives me more pause, but more on that later.

So, I’ve already mentioned a Fastball that touches triple digits, but I’ll expand on that here, the pitch has good movement and he varies it throughout the game, often sitting 89-93, but even late in starts he’s reached back and unleashed 96, 97 mph on it. His delivery 89-93 looks smooth and he repeats it well. He sometimes goes entirely haywire at higher velocities though and I’ve seen games where the ball has flown clear to the backstop (usually arm side). Control and command is overall the other big red flag with Shane. He may have the best raw stuff in the draft, but sometimes he loses his battle with it. He walks 4+ batter per nine innings and he’s a high pitch volume guy right now. He has one complete game in his career (admittedly only 22 games) and averages 5.1 innings per start (closer to 6 innings per start this year, even though his walks are up). Now part of that is protecting him last year when he first came back, but part is also the pitch volume. Now, aside from the Fastball he also has a Changeup that is presently Plus. It’s an out pitch and could probably work for him today in the Majors. He also has a Slider that is improving. He has problems locating it and it can get flat when he tries to overthrow it, but that’s correctable.

I do want to talk more about that Changeup. That alone is enough for me to get excited about him as a prospect. He throws it with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball and he throws it 6-10 mph slower than his fastball. It has late movement and it’s the one pitch in his arsenal he can locate pretty reliably. My very first take on McClanahan was Reliever, but if he can rein in the Fastball control to average and refine the Slider to above Average, I can see a #2 Starter. That Change is really the keystone to his profile.

Video time. First video courtesy of 2080 Baseball, manages to show a lot of what I wrote above. Fastball control to glove side is actually pretty good, but arm side fastballs are clearly planning to go on vacations. You can also see one of those wicked Changes around the minute mark getting an “oh, damn” swing. You’ll see more of the slider on Lefties in the video. It looks to me like the issue on outside fastballs is he releases a little too early sailing the pitch from his 34 release.

My second video is more for mechanics, with side views and slo-mo. Video from Eddy Almaguer. When looking at this one I refer back to some of the scouting reports I read that referred to him as a “tall and fall” Pitcher. In plain English, he lifts his leg, falls forward and generates most of his velocity from his upper half, not driving his hips to create tension and whip his upper half around. It’s over simplified terminology, but he does seem to fit more in that camp than the “drive and drop” camp. The other thing I see more in this video is how straight his arm gets at release, which is probably leading to the release point issues. I think if he can keep it flexed better, he can get the release point more consistent (partly by reducing the tension that puts on the arm and partly by bringing the release point in closer to his trunk).

McClanahan’s not my favorite Pitcher in this draft, but he’d be a guy I’d be okay with at #3 provided the team is comfortable with the medicals and being able to tweak the delivery (and I do think they’re tweaks, he does a lot right). There’s a pretty big delta is his outcomes, so they have to be comfortable with that risk, but this is the draft of risks, so you need to deal with them no matter who you take this year, more than most.