Modesto, California —— At the top of this post, watch our scouting video of Seattle Mariners right-handed pitching prospect Reggie McClain, taken from his most recent start on May 5 for the Modesto Nuts against the Lake Elsinore Storm in High-A California League action.
McClain went seven full innings in this May 5 start, striking out ten Storm hitters while allowing just four hits, no walks, and no runs. On the season, through six starts, he’s 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, a .222 opponents’ batting average, and 31 strikeouts against 12 walks in 36.0 innings pitched. To visit Reggie McClain’s player page, please click here, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Baseball Census YouTube channel here for hundreds more videos like this one.
Reggie McClain scouting report notes
A former high-level college pitcher now in his first full pro summer already at High-A with the Modesto Nuts, Reggie McClain shows the advanced control and nuanced approach you’d expect of a pitcher with his college background. The righty is throwing well for Modesto early this year after an aggressive promotion from the Everett AquaSox to finish 2016, and Baseball Census saw McClain’s best start of the season on Friday night. In it, McClain worked consistently between 89-91 mph on his fastball, topping out at 92 mph several times. It’s a relatively straight pitch, but with his good size and when his mechanics are right, McClain gets a decent downward plane that, combined with velocity, makes it tough to square up at this level.
McClain’s control is good, as you’d expect considering he walked just five hitters in 48.2 innings pitched in his rookie season with the Everett AquaSox, but his command isn’t as refined as it should be. He throws strikes at will, but he can leave the ball up in the hittable part of the zone too often, and that—combined with the relative lack of life on his fastball—must get more refined at higher levels lest he get hit hard.
McClain follows the fastball with a 76-79 mph curveball, and it might be his best pitch right now. It’s not a true hammer, but there’s considerable downward break in the 11-to-5 pitch and he has great control of it, too. The second and third time through the order against Lake Elsinore, McClain showed enough comfort with the curve to pitch off it ahead of his fastball and set hitters up backwards. Doing that helped his fastball, too: when strike one and strike two both come on the curve, an 0-2 or 1-2 fastball at 91 mph suddenly becomes tougher to hit.
McClain’s third pitch is a changeup that sits 79-81 mph, topping out once on Friday at 83 mph. He’d be well-advised to increase his velocity differential between this and the fastball, obviously. More concerning, he showed a tendency to slow his arm and body down noticeably while throwing the changeup. It’s a fairly flat pitch but does show downward tumble at times. Like his other stuff, Reggie McClain can control the pitch well and go to it in virtually every count against hitters on both sides of the plate.
The Seattle Mariners moved McClain quickly to the Modesto Nuts this year after his domination in short-season ball, and it was probably the right move; he would have carved up Low-A hitters in Clinton were he not here. As it is, he’s throwing well in the Cal League, too, though he may not have the lively stuff long term to find as much success in the high minors. He gets a good plane and above-average control on everything he throws, but he’d be well-served to (a) command everything in a more refined manner within the zone, and (b) throw something that has some late lateral movement, too, like a cutter or a slider. If not, it’ll be a challenge for him to consistently miss bats at higher levels and that could push him out of the starting rotation pretty quickly after Modesto.
Long term, it’s probably more likely he winds up in the bullpen sooner rather than later, where his fastball velocity might play up some in short stints, especially if it comes alongside a harder breaking ball and better command. If he’s to have any big impact on the Seattle Mariners one day, it’d likely come in middle relief rather than as a starter. That said, he’s throwing the ball very well right now, and there’s no reason to remove him from the rotation if/until he pitches his way out of it.
To visit Reggie McClain’s player page, please click here.
Reggie McClain scouting report: 140 characters or less
Great control, a good curve, and advanced knowledge of how to set up hitters leave Reggie McClain poised for success in Modesto this summer.
Reggie McClain scouting report video
Here’s a look at our most recent Reggie McClain baseball mechanics video, taken during his May 5, 2017 start for the Modesto Nuts at home against the visiting Lake Elsinore Storm.
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Reggie McClain scouting report GIFs
In addition to our video clips, we broke out some Reggie McClain baseball GIFs for a deeper look at his mechanics:
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