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Cape High alum McClanahan drafted by Tampa Bay Rays

June 8, 2018
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It's every ball player's dream to hear his name called, walk onto a stage, shake the hand of the commissioner and hold up a freshly-stitched jersey of the Major League ball-club that took a chance on you.

For former Cape Coral High School student Shane McClanahan, that dream became a reality when Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred Jr. announced him as the 31st overall pick to the Tampa Bay Rays in the compensatory first round of the 2018 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

The 21-year-old graduated from CCHS in 2015 and did get selected in the 26th round of the 2015 draft by the New York Mets, but he turned down the club to pursue his college career at the University of Southern Florida in Tampa.

Article Photos

MICHAEL?PISTELLA / Breeze File Photo

Former Cape Coral High School standout Shane McClanahan was the 31st overall pick in this year’s Major League draft, chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays. He is shown pitching in his senior year for the Seahawks in 2015.

"He was great," said coach of the Cape Coral High School baseball team Mike Gorton. "He was one of the best pitchers i've ever coached."

Gorton was there first hand with McClanahan when he was drafted out of high school and knew there was a certain figure he was looking for.

"I talked in my garage with him about being drafted, I gave him my thought process on the matter. He set aside a number in his head and if he didn't get it, he'd go to college."

As we know now, the hard-throwing left-handed pitcher chose to attend USF.

He has a simple pitching motion, keeping his hands together at his belt, before quickly bringing them up to his face - then back down right into his delivery.

He now consistently lights up the radar gun in the high 90s, even seeing some triple-digit fastballs.

Gorton said that speed developed from his junior to senior year at CCHS.

McClanahan had a career record of 29-7, with a 1.02 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 123 high school innings pitched.

His senior year at CCHS, he was named 2015 all-state, first team all-Florida, all-conference, all-area and an All-American honorable mention.

He also hit a modest .353.

"He was always a good pitcher, good mechanics, when his body developed, he just got better," Gorton said.

"Junior year he was in the mid 80s, his senior year he was touching the low to mid 90s."

Scouts say his fastball velocity stays strong late into games, with a plus change-up and slider to boot.

There were some roadblocks on his journey to the draft though, having undergone Tommy John surgery, a now-common procedure involving the elbow, in 2016, making his first season at USF a wash.

"If you throw hard enough and play that many games, it's gonna happen," Gorton said of his surgery.

McClanahan bounced back and made 15 starts for USF in what was technically his redshirt freshman year.

The 6-foot-1, 190 pounder went 4-2 and posted a 3.20 ERA to go along with 104 strikeouts over 76 innings pitched, holding batters to a .181 average.

The southpaw was named a 2017 Baseball America First Team Freshman All-American, 2017 Perfect Game/Rawlings College First Team Freshman All-American and 2017 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association First Team Freshman All-American.

Heading into the 2018 season, numerous publications listed McClanahan on their preseason All-American watch, including Baseball America, D1 Baseball and Perfect Game.

McClanahan did not disappoint, as he dazzled over his first five starts of 2018, not allowing an earned run in those starts and striking out 56 batters in 30.2 innings.

He extended that scoreless streak to 31.2 innings, the longest in USF history.

More history was made when he took the rubber on March 16 against Army and did not allow a hit over six innings, striking out a career-high 15.

His teammate, Carson Ragsdale followed up with three hitless innings of his own to give USF its first combined no-hitter in school history.

McClanahan sort of had a fall from grace after the best outing of his career, taking a loss to UConn in which he allowed six earned runs over four innings, allowing two home runs.

His starts were up and down the remainder of his redshirt sophomore season, with control being the center of his issues.

He walked 48 batters in 76.1 innings pitched in 2018 and finished 5-6 with a 3.42 ERA over 14 starts.

Those issues did not shy major league clubs away from the fact he has some electric stuff, striking out 120 batters over those innings, fourth most in a season in team history and became the second pitcher ever at USF to strike out 100 or more in back-to-back seasons.

He only allowed 10 extra base hits in 2018.

Between his two seasons, McClanahan posted double-digit strikeout games nine times.

He finished 2018 with a staggering 14.15 strikeouts per nine innings, second in the country and tops in The American - he also allowed just 6.01 hits per nine innings, good for 18th best in the country.

Over his time on the USF mound, McClanahan held opposing hitters to a .184 clip, a truly impressive number.

"He always had a great character," Gorton added. "He was a quiet shy kid, but on that mound - it was you vs him - and you can bet he's not going to let you win. His competitive nature is through the roof."

Heading into the draft, McClanahan was ranked the 8th best player available by Baseball America, 14th by and 15th by ESPN's Keith Law.

The Rays selected him with the compensatory pick they received for Alex Cobb.

McClanahan is the second USF pitcher selected by the Rays in as many drafts, with Phoenix Sanders chosen in the 10th round of 2017.

Hopefully, one day Cape Coral residents can see McClanahan on a mound in the Sunshine State once more, this time, for the Tampa Bay Rays.



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