Despite shaky year, USF’s Shane McClanahan still a 1st-round pick

USF left-hander Shane McClanahan has struggled with his consistency this season, but certainly not his velocity. (Photo provided by USF Athletics)
USF left-hander Shane McClanahan has struggled with his consistency this season, but certainly not his velocity. (Photo provided by USF Athletics)
Published June 4 2018
Updated June 4 2018

Fortunately for USF left-hander Shane McClanahan, big-league clubs generally base their draft selections more on upside than consistency.

These days, the Bulls' resident first-round prospect possesses the former in bulk, and the latter in only bits. Since going the first 31 2/3 innings of the season without surrendering an earned run, McClanahan (5-6, 3.42 ERA) has struggled to piece together solid starts.

"McClanahan still has some command issues to work through," John Sickels of minorleagueball.com wrote a couple of weeks ago, "and there are some observers who feel he will be a reliever in the long run."

Nonetheless, lefties with a fastball that can touch triple digits on the radar gun remain one of baseball's most priceless commodities. Hence the reason McClanahan remains a lock to be picked in the first round when the draft commences this evening (7 p.m., MLB Network).

The only real mystery is whether he'll become the highest-drafted player in USF history. Currently, C Scott Hemond, (12th overall, A's, 1986) owns that distinction, and some draft analysts believe Hemond still will own it after tonight, based on McClanahan's spotty senior year.

Sickels projects McClahanan to be taken by the Brewers with the 21st overall pick. ESPN's Keith Law has him going 19th overall to the Cardinals.

"That (projection for McClanahan) has been moving a lot, especially lately," said Kiley McDaniel of fangraphs.com, a former Braves scout. "I've been talking to some guys the last couple of days and they're telling me they're hearing mid-to-late-20s now."

If executives are harboring second thoughts about McClanahan, they likely stem from his lack of command and consistency throughout the spring.

He mostly sparkled in the season opener, working six scoreless innings, striking out 11 and walking five in a 4-3 win against then-No. 6 North Carolina.

But his earned-run streak was shattered when he allowed six second-inning runs in his first American Athletic Conference start, a 6-4 home loss to Connecticut. A week later, he worked into the seventh inning against Houston, striking out eight but walking five, in the Bulls' 9-6 triumph.

Related: USF's McClanahan finally allows an earned run…and then some

A dreadful performance in a 15-2 loss at East Carolina (three innings, six runs, four hits, five walks) was followed by consecutive dazzling efforts against UCF and Memphis, when McClanahan totaled 23 strikeouts and allowed only five total hits over 13 innings.

But he again struggled mightily (three innings, six runs, six hits, four strikeouts, five walks) in a 17-2 loss at Wichita State on May 11. At the NCAA regional in DeLand, Bulls coach Billy Mohl opted to start senior Peter Strzelecki in the opener against Oklahoma State, a 9-2 defeat.

McClanahan started Game Two against Hartford, throwing 110 pitches in only five innings. He fanned three, walked four and hit two batters before exiting in an 11-inning, 9-4 Bulls triumph.

"After that (North Carolina) game, it seemed like, 'Oh, if he does anything close to this the rest of the year, he'll go in the top five.' And that was sort of the belief for…maybe even half the season, like he just kind of belonged up there," McDaniel said.

"And some (scouts) who saw a really good start came in and saw a bad start and they're like, 'How do I reconcile these two things? I need to see him a third time.'

"And so basically everybody's been getting their third look the last couple of weeks, and it's been bad again."

Just not bad enough to take a pass. Consider this recent assessment from Baseball America.

"The 6-foot-2 lefty continues to face questions over whether he'll end up in the bullpen long term, but there are still few lefties in baseball that can match his fastball/slider combo."

MLB Draft
Today: Round 1-Round 2 (comp), 7 p.m. (MLB Network and MLB.com)
Tuesday: Rounds 3-10, 1 p.m. (MLB.com)
Wednesday: Rounds 11-40, noon (MLB.com)

Advertisement