ALEX McRAE, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: April 6, 1993
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 10th Round, 311th Overall, 2014
How Acquired: Draft
College: Jacksonville University
Agent: N/A
(Photo by: David Hague)

WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE

McRae throws a four pitch mix.  When he was drafted, his fastball sat at 89-93, although scouts thought that, given his build, he could still add more velocity.  By 2016 he was throwing 93-94.  Among his other pitchers, his slider is the closest to an out pitch.  Jacksonville thought enough of McRae that he was a regular member of the rotation starting as a freshman, but he never put up good numbers.  Even in his freshman year, when his ERA was good, his BB/K ratio was poor.  In his junior year he finally put up solid BB and K numbers, but he got hit hard.  Baseball America did not rank him among its top 500 draft prospects, but did rank him 69th on their list of Florida’s top 98 prospects.  McRae signed quickly.  His bonus of $125,000 was $12,600 below the slot amount.

2014
A-:  3-6-0, 6.21 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 66.2 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

McRae had a rough debut.  He started off fairly well in June and July, but got hammered for a 1.034 OPS in August and had his worst start of all in the season’s last game on September 1.  Overall, opponents hit 306/351/475 against him.  The trouble came from left-handed hitters, who pounded him to the tune of 377/434/608.  Right-handed hitters hit 243/276/358.  The Pirates stuck with him all season, though; in fact, he led Jamestown in starts.

2015
A:  8-9-0, 4.98 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 137.1 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

McRae pitched out of the West Virginia rotation all year.  He had a better season than 2014, but still was too easy to hit.  Opponents put up a 288/338/432 line against him in a league where the average was 256/325/372.  Left-handed hitters remained his main problem:  his line against them was 328/381/492.  Against right-handed hitters it was 254/303/383.  Of course, even the latter was roughly league average, so he wasn’t great against righties.

2016
A+:  3-4-0, 2.69 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 67.0 IP, 2.3 BB/9, 4.7 K/9
AA:  8-6-0, 4.79 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 88.1 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 6.8 K/9

McRae opened the season at Bradenton.  He made a dozen starts there, striking out very few hitters but holding opponents to a .241 average and, obviously, not many runs.  The Pirates promoted him to Altoona after his first June start and things began badly there.  In his first two starts, he allowed 19 hits, six walks and 15 earned runs in seven and a third innings.  He followed that with two good starts, then allowed 11 earned runs over six and a third innings in his next two starts.  After that, he posted a 2.47 ERA in his final ten games, which included one long relief appearance.  McRae also increased his K rate substantially from what it had been at Bradenton, although it remained low.  He did strike out 34 in his last 38.2 IP.  He had no significant platoon split.

2017
AA:  10-5-0, 3.61 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 149.2 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 5.4 K/9

Except for a pair of relief outings, McRae spent the season in the Altoona rotation.  He generally pitched decently, but remained fairly hittable.  Opponents had a line of 291/336/410 against him, compared to the league averages of 259/330/397, so he was roughly a league average pitcher with some singles substituting for walks.  He missed few bats.  Left-handed hitters put up an .814 OPS against him, right-handed hitters .671.

2018
AAA:  3-10-1, 4.77 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 117.0 IP, 3.8 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
MLB:  0-1-0, 5.68 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 6.1 IP, 7.1 BB/9, 7.1 K/9

McRae opened the season in the Indianapolis rotation.  He didn’t pitch well there, but when the Pirates’ pitching staff was in a shambles in early July, they called McRae up.  He didn’t pitch for them at that point, but they called him up again in late July and he got into two games.  One was an extra-inning game, which he lost, when the Pirates were still in the playoff race.  McRae went back to AAA for most of August and was not called up in September.  For the season in AAA, he did greatly increase his K rate, but he got hit hard, with opponents putting up a line of 296/376/427.  He had a reverse platoon split, with right-handed hitters putting up an OPS of .875 and left-handed hitters .726.

2019
AAA:  7-8-0, 5.20 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 114.1 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 8.0 K/9
MLB:  0-4-0, 8.78 ERA, 1.95 WHIP, 26.2 IP, 5.4 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

The Pirates designated McRae for assignment after signing Lonnie Chisenhall.  He cleared waivers and opened the season at Indianapolis.  With the Pirates’ pitching staff in a meltdown, though, they called McRae up in late May for several weeks, then again briefly in late July.  They also brought him up in September.  McRae didn’t pitch well in AAA, allowing opponents to bat .286 and giving up better than a home run every six innings.  Offense in AAA exploded due to a livelier ball in 2019, but McRae’s ERA was still slightly worse than the league average.  In the majors he simply got torched.  Opponents batted 319/417/611 against him, with a homer every three innings.

The Pirates’ continued reliance on McRae as a significant depth piece provides striking evidence of their failure to develop pitching talent.  Not surprisingly, they removed him from the roster in the off-season.

CONTRACT INFORMATION
2020: Minor league salary
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $125,000
MiLB Debut: 2014
MLB Debut: 8/1/18
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible: 2025
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 7/7/2018 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 1 (USED:  2018, 2019)
MLB Service Time: 0.061
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2014: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round, 311th overall pick; signed on June 11.
July 7, 2018: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 27, 2018: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; cleared waivers and outrighted to AAA on November 30.
May 27, 2019: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 4, 2019: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
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