Scouting Yankees Prospect #13: Ian Clarkin

The Yankees drafted left-handed pitcher Ian Clarkin in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Madison High School in California. Like most Yankee prospects last year his debut season was cut short due to injury but he still offers a huge long-term ceiling.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ian Clarkin
Position: Pitcher
DOB: February 14, 1995
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

He badly sprained his right ankle and tore two ligaments after he signed and pitched in just three games for Gulf Coast League Yankees1 in his debut season last year, surrendering six earned runs in just five innings.

"Well it was good to get my feet wet with professional baseball for sure," Clarkin said. "Unfortunately I did get hurt and sidelined for two months but the thing about being hurt, it couldn't have been at a better time.

"It [was] my first year [and] Derek Jeter was the one sitting next to me for two months working on his ankle. We talked a lot and I got to pick his brain. The same with Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez.

"It's always not fun to get hurt and everybody hates sitting on the sidelines for two months, but if you look at the bright side of it I got to pick the brains of the greatest of all time."

He admits that it simultaneously was the most frustrating time of his life as well, not being able to play with his peers or exercise some of the adjustments to his game that he learned at the professional level, but he says he got some invaluable experience at Instructional League this offseason.

"I was still in that 30-day window in the regular season when I came back," he said. "Instructs though was the greatest thing that happened to me [last] year. We talked a lot, we broke down my mechanics, and I'm very happy with the development side so far. It's taught me a lot.

"Just keeping my balance -- sometimes my front leg falls forward instead of staying back and lunging forward. You know how Clayton Kershaw has that pause -- it's not over-exaggerated like that, the pause, but it's kind of like that. I have a high leg kick like he does and a high hand break. He stays back and then he goes, and I've been trying to work on that also."

He says he saw some major improvements in his command in quick order and he also rapidly developed his changeup, so much so in fact that he now considers it his best weapon, not the plus curveball he entered pro ball with back in June.

"To be honest my curveball is not my go-to pitch in pro ball," he admitted. "It was my changeup and that was easily my best pitch. Once I started throwing my changeup more it just started getting better, better, and better.

"I had great command of my changeup so I started to throw that a lot more and when I had a hitter 0-2, 1-2, I would give them the breaking ball.

"It's definitely [better] because I'm throwing it more often. I have a little thing with my changeup -- if you have your hand and wrist on top of the ball, that's exactly what you want to do. Sometimes in high school I didn't throw it enough so I didn't know the feeling of what it should be doing. I'd just tell myself to get on top of it but I wouldn't need to throw it so I'd just forget how to throw it.

"It's been great to play pro ball because I need to throw all three pitches which is what I haven't been able to do since the USA team."

That has been one of the most exciting developments with Clarkin, a pitcher who was highly regarded for his plus curveball, borderline plus fastball combination at the amateur level.

Now that he has gotten a brief taste of pro ball and made some improvements to his game already, he can tell what he wants to further develop going forward.

"More command of my pitches. If you have great command of your pitches and good movement of your pitches that's going to take you very far. Just commanding my pitches -- I want my changeup to always be low, down and outside would be perfect.

"The fastball, I have to keep that low. I learned that for sure. I left a couple of fastballs up in the GCL and when you don't have all of your velocity back you get hit pretty hard."

Armed to the teeth with three quality big league pitches and getting a better understanding of how to command those pitches better, he is eager to get out there and test his mettle in his first full season this coming year.

"I'm looking forward to it next season. I can't wait to be back out there and show what I have, and just prove myself. I couldn't be anymore excited.

"I'm beyond excited. I'm a competitive guy and I just want to go out there and prove who I am and why I went that high in the draft. I just have to prove myself and that's why I'm excited to get back out there [this] next season," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2013

GCL Yankees1

0-2

0

5.0

5

4

4

10.80



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.

Fastball. Clarkin reportedly normally ranges 91-94 mph with his four-seam fastball, at least in high school, which puts it into the plus range for a southpaw, but he had a hard time getting his velocity up to that vicinity at the professional level simply because he wasn't on the field long enough. His fastball shows good movement already and it could be a precursor to introducing a two-seamer down the road once he improves his four-seam fastball command. As big as he is, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 205 pounds, there is the possibility he could extract another mile or two per hour on the radar gun as he smooths out his mechanics.

Other Pitches. Widely known at the amateur level [including being a standout for Team USA] for his plus curveball, one that sits mostly 78-80 mph with great 12 to 6 diving action, he did have trouble commanding it within the zone in the Gulf Coast League but track history suggests it shouldn't be a long-term issue. It is and should remain a big-time strikeout weapon. He rounds out his repertoire with an average big league changeup, one that began as a rather non-existent pitch, but now shows long-term plus potential with the amount of fade and depth it already gets, and the arm speed and command of his changeup are rapidly coming together.

Pitching: Clarkin has not yet defined a pitching style at the professional level simply due to his limited exposure, but at his core he's a big, strapping left-hander who attempts to attack batters early to try to get quickly ahead in counts and then goes in for the kill with his wipeout curveball. There is some herky-jerky motion with his delivery -- it gives him good deception -- but that needs to be cleaned up so it could take a little while for the command to develop up to the level of his great stuff, but his raw power, deception, athleticism, and great makeup combine to lead many to believe that it won't be a major long-term issue.

Projection. With great size, three average or better big league pitches [including one which could be a plus-plus pitch with his curveball], and tremendous makeup, Clarkin has the foundation needed to develop into a front-half of a big league starting rotation pitcher someday. However, smoothing out his delivery and further improving the consistency of his fastball command will be needed for him to tap that kind of potential. The comparisons to Clayton Kershaw are going to be inevitable simply due to their similar deliveries and handedness, and like Kershaw, Clarkin could have some short-term issues with walks as he moves up the minor league ladder.

ETA. 2017. Clarkin has the stuff, moxie, and makeup to break into the long-season leagues in 2014 but it seems more than likely that he will begin the year in the short-season leagues, perhaps even in Staten Island, given the Yankees' conservative approach to promoting their teenage prospects. He could really begin to move quickly though once his fastball command becomes more consistent.

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