2008 Cardinals Prospect #31 – Kyle McClellan

The reliever finally put it all together in his sixth year in the St. Louis Cardinals system and was added to their 40-man roster last month.

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to 2007 and career stats)

2007 Ranking: not ranked

Position: RP

DOB: 6/12/1984

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 185

Bats: R

Throws: R

School: Hazelwood West High School (Missouri)

Became a Cardinal: Selected in the 25th round (762nd overall) of the June, 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

2007 stats

Tm

W

L

ERA

G

GS

SV

IP

H

R

HR

BB

SO

GO/AO

AVG

PB

4

1

1.24

16

1

0

29

22

4

0

4

24

1.58

0.210

SPR

2

0

2.35

24

0

0

30.2

24

9

2

6

30

2.53

0.214

Tot

6

1

1.81

40

1

0

59.2

46

13

2

10

54

2.00

0.212

Staff Comments (individual rankings in parens)

Leonda Markee (20): I ranked McClellan far higher than did the others. Well, I stand by that ranking. I think McClellan's 2007 season has been a bit overlooked by some and he had an excellent season. He began the season at class A-Advanced Palm Beach where he put up a 1.99 dERA, 2.17 FIP, 0.90 WHIP and 6:1 K/BB ratio in 29 innings (.272 BABIP). Now, Palm Beach plays in a ‘pitcher's league' so those stats should be read in that context. However, he was promoted to Double-A Springfield and the hitter-friendly Texas League, where he put up a 2.77 dERA, 2.68 FIP, 0.98 WHIP and 5:1 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings (.286 BABIP).

While I agree that starters have more value than do relievers, McClellan is one of the better relievers in the Cardinals' high minors. He may well make his MLB debut in 2008. Weight was given to his potential to help the St. Louis team in 2008. Those rookie bullpen guys can play more of a role than is expected – ref: Kinney, Josh and Johnson, Tyler – 2006 post-season.

Dustin Mattison (34): The St. Louis-area native was 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 40 appearances over two levels, finishing the year with Double-A Springfield. A 25th round pick in the 2002 draft, McClellan has overcome Tommy John surgery and a nerve transposition procedure to earn a spot on the Cardinals' 40-man roster. In 2007, he held opponents to a .212 average and in 59 2/3 innings he struck out nearly as many (54) as he allowed to reach base by hit or walk (56). McClellan was rewarded for his superb season with a trip to the Arizona Fall League. He posted a 4.91 ERA while notching nine strikeouts in seven and a third innings. All of his earned runs came in only two rough outings in the desert.

Ray Mileur (32): Hometown boy makes good. Born in Florissant, Missouri and a graduate of Hazelwood West High School, Kyle McClellan put together a solid ‘07 campaign, splitting playing time between the Palm Beach and Springfield Cardinals. Working out of the bullpen this season after missing most of the ‘06 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, McClellan posted a combined record of 6-1 with a 1.81 ERA in 40 games (16-Palm Beach/24-Springfield), with opponents hitting only .212 against him.

McClellan, who has caught the attention of the Cardinals' brass with his performance this season, was recently added the to Cardinals 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft in December. McClellan throws a two-seamed sinking fastball, a changeup, with his out pitch being his best pitch, his curveball. There remains some question as to if McClellan's future is as a starter or a reliever. Either way, McClellan has struggled through two arm surgeries and a forearm injury and he has a place on the Cardinals 40-man roster to show for it.

Brian Walton (NR): McClellan was a good 2007 success story, don't get me wrong. In fact, his WHIP of 0.94 was best in the system. On the other hand, one breakout year in six professional seasons isn't exactly a major trend as far as I am concerned. His stuff is said to be good, especially his sinker and curve, at least when he has been healthy enough to pitch. Now, it may be unfair to label McClellan as injury-prone – maybe he has just been unlucky.

Perhaps McClellan can move up the ladder quickly now, but I don't see him close to being ready to contribute at the Major League level. Among relievers, which ideally shouldn't be an overly hot prospect position, I consider Chris Perez, Mark Worrell, Jason Motte and even perhaps Luke Gregerson among those ahead of him. After all, in his sixth season, McClellan has just 24 games of experience at Double-A.

His .364 batting average against in the Arizona Fall League following the regular season was not pretty. It may have been due to McClellan working on his slider and cutter, but even if so, as a reliever, would it not have been better to instead hone his best pitches and build confidence against that elite class of opposition? Anyway, I am just not sold yet.

Key: NR = not ranked, NA = not applicable

To see our entire list of 40 prospects as they are unveiled daily, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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