Sunshine State spotlight: McClanahan unleashes elite stuff in season debut
The latest MO2 Sunshine State spotlight performer. We break down Rays’ rookie Shane McClanahan, the hard-throwing lefty from the University of South Florida who was the 31st overall pick in the 2018 Draft
By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd
Electric. Overpowering. Filthy. Nasty.
Call it what you wish.
Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash summed it up in one word: “Outstanding.”
“I thought he was outstanding,” Cash said on Thursday in his postgame Zoom call.
The performance of Rays rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan has the industry talking. And here at MO2, which focuses on “all things” baseball in the state of Florida, we were tuned in, and take notice.
Here’s our McClanahan report.
Making his MLB regular-season debut, the southpaw from Cape Coral, Fla., flashed three elite pitches on Thursday afternoon against the Oakland A’s at Tropicana Field.
Courtesy of Statcast, McClanahan’s four-seam fastball averaged 97.4 mph, and topped at 100.5 mph. (More on that in a minute). His slider was filthy. Of the 24 he snapped off, 10 were swinging strikes. (More on this pitch in a minute). And his changeup is plus. He threw eight of those. (Ditto on previous two comments).
For good measure, McClanahan sprinkled in three curveballs.
Let’s focus on his main three pitches: fastball, slider, changeup. That three-pitch mix alone shows he has the potential to be a top of the rotation candidate.
Whether he can handle the full-season workload is something to keep track of.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, McClanahan is yet another elite pitching talent that the Rays are developing. The lefty is in the perfect organization to accelerate his development.
McClanahan’s ceiling? Frontline starter. Floor? Dominant closer.
Either way, he’s a valuable weapon.
The Rays selected McClanahan with the 31st overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. They didn’t have to travel far to scout him, because he pitched locally at the University of South Florida.
The Rays aren’t rushing him, either.
The lefty actually made his MLB debut in the 2020 postseason. So, Thursday technically was his regular season debut.
Tampa Bay is easing him in, McClanahan worked four innings, logging 59 pitches with 42 strikes in Tampa Bay’s 3-2 loss.
McClanahan’s line was: four innings, five hits, two runs, five strikeouts and no walks.
Any concerns about nerves were quickly erased.
The first batter he faced was Mark Canha. McClanahan wasted no time dialing up the heat. He struck out Canha on a 100.5 mph fastball.
Still, words don’t due the pitch justice. You have to watch the replay (shown above). The movement was ridiculous. The ball not only exploded out of McClanahan’s left hand, it tailed away from the right-handed hitting Canha.
The four-pitch sequence showed McClanahan wasn’t messing around.
He started Canha off with a 96.3 mph four-seamer, taken for a strike. Then he slowed things down a bit, going to his changeup, which was 91.1 mph. It was taken for a ball. He cranked up the heat with his third pitch, a 98 mph four-seamer, which was fouled off.
Making sure Canha wasn’t timing him up, McClanahan showed there was still more in the tank. That’s when he blazed that 100.5 mph tailing fastball. He now has a keepsake is the pitch resulted in his first regular-season strikeout.
The southpaw followed that up with another impressive strikeout, this time Ramon Laureano was the victim. Again, McClanahan got ahead, 1-2. But instead of unleashing his fastball, he bent a 93 mph back-foot slider, for a swinging strike three.
Granted, it’s just one four-inning start and a no-decision for McClanahan. But if Thursday is a sign of what’s to come, the left-hander will quickly become a “must see” rookie.
MO2 certainly will be watching.