Draft Prospect Watch: Jackson McClelland Making Waves at Pepperdine

We wrap up the weekend of college baseball today, while also taking a look at the progress of some recent Pirates draft picks that didn’t sign. Yesterday, we took a look at the first two days of the week from some of the best hitters, plus covered some pitchers, including seven no-hit innings from Ketucky’s Kyle Cody. The draft begins on June 8th and the Pittsburgh Pirates have the 19th and 32nd overall picks. It was announced on Thursday that the Pirates will have¬†the 11th highest draft bonus pool.

Florida State’s D.J. Stewart had a strange game on Sunday against UNC Wilmington. He hit a two-run homer, his third of the season, which was the only good thing that happened. He struck out in each of his other four at-bats in the game. Stewart is hitting .324/.558/.676 through 11 games.

Florida shortstop Richie Martin went 1-for-3 with a double, sacrifice fly and a walk. He is hitting .306/.449/.417 through 11 games, with two errors in 62 chances.

Cincinnati outfielder Ian Happ went 0-for-4 with two walks in his team’s 5-0 loss against Iowa. He is hitting .500/.604/.842 in ten games, yet his team has won just once this season.

Boston College outfielder Chris Shaw went 0-for-3 on Sunday against Kansas. He had one walk and one strikeout. Shaw is hitting .265/.409/.471 in ten games.

Pacific outfielder Gio Brusa has had a tough start to the season. After an 0-for-3 on Sunday, he is hitting .161/.297/.226 and his team has an 0-10 record.

In Vanderbilt’s 16-12 win over Illinois State on Sunday, shortstop Dansby Swanson went 3-for-6 with two singles and his fifth double. He scored twice and drove in a run. Illinois State’s second baseman Paul DeJong was the Pirates 38th round pick last year. He went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Ferguson was rated fairly high coming into this season, but those rankings have taken a huge hit. On Sunday, he gave up four earned runs on a hit and three walks, while failing to retire a single batter. He has a 24.30 ERA in four appearances and has walked 14 batters in 3.1 innings.

TCU has two of the better pitchers in this draft in Alex Young and Riley Ferrell. Weather ended up canceling their entire weekend. Their next game is against Rice on Tuesday.

Former Pirates Picks

Besides Paul DeJong, there are some other former draft picks of the Pirates, who are making noise early in the season. The one really moving up the draft charts is Jackson McClelland, who was taken in the 35th round in 2012 out of high school. On Friday, he threw eight innings against Hawaii, allowing one run on three hits and a walk. McClelland threw 114 pitches(71 for strikes) and struck out two batters. In 21 innings this year, the Pepperdine righty has a .143 BAA and he’s given up just one run. He has hit 96 MPH this season and sits low-90’s during his starts.

McClelland has gone from 6’5″, 220 pounds when he was drafted, to a solid built 6’6″, 265 pounds now. He has the frame to be a workhorse starter and just needs more polish on his secondary stuff and command. He was listed near the end of two top 200 lists this off-season, which would have made him a potential 5th-6th round pick before his strong start this season. I suspect a few more starts like his first three and he will move up quickly in this draft class. I’ve included a video below from Prospect Pipeline.

Zach Lucas was taken in the 29th round last, but decided to return to Louisville to try to win a College World Series title. In 11 games this year, the second baseman has a .209/.320/.279 slash line.

The highest draft pick from last year that didn’t sign was 23rd round pick Zach Warren. He decided to attend Tennessee. Warren has yet to pitch a game this season. His teammate, outfielder Christin Stewart is highly regarded and could sneak into the first round. He has a 1.003 OPS through the first eight games of the season.

Florida State lefty Bryant Holtmann was taken in the 37th round last year. The 22-year-old returned to school despite two arm injuries. So far this season in two starts and two relief appearances, he has a 5.40 ERA in 11.2 innings, with a .327 BAA and a 5/6 BB/SO ratio.

The Pirates took right-handed pitcher Carson Cross in the 24th round in 2013 and after not signing, he ended up missing all of 2014 with a shoulder injury. He talks about his surgery and the job the Pirates did trying to sell him on signing in this recent article. In three starts for UConn this year, he has a 3.06 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. His 11 strikeouts this week, are the most he has struck out in a game during his college career.

Bryan Baker was a very interesting arm the Pirates couldn’t sign from the 2013 draft class. Take in the last round, he was considered raw because he played basketball and didn’t concentrate on his baseball career until late. The 6’5″, 205 pound righty was able to hit 93 MPH in high school. He attends North Florida, where he has a 2.45 ERA in three starts this season. In 14.2 innings, he has a .268 BAA and a 10:13 BB/SO ratio.

One final player of note and it’s just an update on a player we have been covering because he will likely go early in the first round. Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler was drafted in the 14th round in 2012. He has missed the start of this season with elbow soreness, though his coach said this week that he is close to returning. He will have to prove he is healthy the rest of the way or his stock could drop.


John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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John Janesko

Just curious, would you guys rather have someone currently ranked well above 19 have a bad year and fall to 19, or currently ranked well below have a very good year and propel themselves up? Purely hypothetical obviously.

R Edwards

McClelland is now 6’6″ 265?? Wow, that is a horse….for a pitcher, is that getting close to being too big? Does he really need to carry 265?

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