The enigmatic season of USF left-handed ace Shane McClanahan didn't end with his final pitch Saturday in the NCAA regional.
Widely projected to be a first-round pick in the major league draft, McClanahan lasted until the 31st pick, when he was taken by the Rays with a Round 1 compensatory pick.
As a result, C Scott Hemond (12th overall, A's, 1986) remains the highest-drafted player in USF history. McClanahan is No. 3, behind Hemond and SS Jason Dellaero (15th overall, White Sox, 1997).
"That was another surprise, and we're happy about it," Rays senior vice-president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said.
"You've got to love the stuff this kid has. Love the stuff, love the competitiveness. Bonus points for being a local kid, although obviously that's not a huge factor in our process."
Once even considered a top-10 pick due to a fastball that can touch triple digits, McClanahan totaled 120 strikeouts in 76 1/3 innings this season, but struggled with his command in conference and postseason play.
He lasted five or fewer innings in five of his 14 starts this season. In his final Bulls appearance — an 11-inning, 9-4 triumph Saturday against Hartford in the NCAA Tournament — McClanahan threw 110 pitches in only five innings. He struck out three, walked four, hit two batters and tossed two wild pitches.
The inconsistency prompted some experts to suggest the redshirt sophomore, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016, may be better suited as a reliever in the big leagues.
"Early on in the spring, this was a guy who was one of the better college pitchers in the country," MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo said. "That arm strength is legit. The good backup plan is, that stuff is gonna work out of the bullpen really, really well if the command doesn't come and he can't clean up the delivery."
Bloom said the Rays will let things play out before determining McClanahan's role long-term.
"You could make arguments either way," he said. "We love the impact. We've been as flexible with roles as anybody this year. We just saw impact stuff."
Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.