Name: Nick McBride
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: May 13, 1991
Acquired: 2009 Amateur Draft, 5th round
Right-hander Nick McBride finished his debut professional season with solid results. The 19-year-old hurler made 15 starts at short-season Spokane, posting a 4.24 ERA over 70 innings. He yielded 76 hits while walking 20 and striking out 51.
McBride was particularly good late in the year, allowing just two earned runs over 27 innings in his final five starts.
"It was like a mental click," McBride said of his finish. "I just kept telling myself to stand up taller and have a good down angle on the ball. That was like a mental adjustment trying to make a physical adjustment, which I did. It helped out completely."
The former fifth-round pick, who signed for an above-slot $325,000 bonus, entered the offseason looking to build upon his success while playing at Fall Instructional League.
"Instructs was good," he said. "I felt like I got a lot more consistent with pitching instead of just being a thrower. I ended up well in Spokane, and I felt like that just carried on at instructs. It was another place to work on what was working for me."
For McBride, that meant refining the mental aspect of his game, working on a new curveball grip, and maximizing his 6-foot-5 frame by throwing the ball on a downward angle with consistency.
When the North Carolina native signed with the Rangers in the summer of '09, he stood 6-foot-4 and weighed approximately 170 pounds. Professional teams were intrigued by McBride in large part due to his projectable body.
The next step for the prospect has become filling out his tall frame. Now 6-foot-5, McBride moved to the Boston area this offseason, where he is working out with strength and conditioning guru Eric Cressey.
"I'm working out six days out of the week––every day but Sunday," McBride said. "Two of the days aren't workouts––they're more running and conditioning-type days.
"I've never really met somebody that has known so much about the shoulder. His knowledge is just outrageous. It's definitely a place I want to be. Eric has done some stuff that I've never heard of before, which I like."
McBride says he's gained "20 or 25 pounds" over the offseason alone.
"When I left Spokane and instructs last year, I was probably at about 180 or 190––anywhere in there," he said. "And now, up here with Eric, it's the first time I've been over 200. I'm up to 205 now. And before I head to Spring Training, Eric still wants me to be right around 215."
As the former East Carolina signee competed at Ragsdale High School in '08 and '09, he often heard from scouts about his projectable frame. And while it's nice to have the frame, McBride knows he'll need to fill it out in order to take the next step.
"I definitely feel like it's going to help me on the mound," the hurler said. "Just having the weight on me––having a bigger base.
"Everybody says they love my body style––the tall, lean and skinny. That's always good, I guess. But after awhile, the tall, lean and skinny needs to get a little bit of weight on it. That's what I feel like Eric has done so well for me."
Also See: Rangers Minor League Notes (March 28, 2010)
McBride attacking with the fastball (June 7, 2010)
McBride satisfied with strong finish (September 17, 2010)
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball: McBride currently features an 88-92 mph fastball that bumps 93 on occasion. With lots of armside run and sink, the pitch has excellent life and helped him notch nearly two groundouts per flyout with Spokane last summer. McBride fills up the strike zone, but––like many tall, young pitchers––he often works too far up in the zone and is still learning to consistently throw the ball on a downward plane. Once developed, he figures to sit in the low-90s with the ability to touch a tick higher. The fastball's natural movement and angle should help him get a fair share of ground balls and swinging strikes down the line.
Other Pitches: Though McBride didn't feature a changeup in high school, the offering has quickly emerged as the more promising of his two offspeed pitches. He throws the change between 77-79 mph, and the pitch has some deception, with similar sinking and tumbling action as his fastball. He developed confidence in the pitch, often using it more than his breaking ball and showing it to both left- and right-handed hitters. The changeup, which already shows plus potential, should at least develop into a solid-average offering.
His curveball was a different story, however, as he struggled to find the feel for it throughout his debut season. The mid-70s curve had a slurvy action and lacked depth. McBride toyed with a different grip late in the summer with Spokane, and he began to throw the new breaking ball with more confidence. The pitch has more of a 12-to-6 break and shows more potential, though it is inconsistent and still in its early stages of development.
Projection: McBride is already adding strength to his 6-foot-5 frame, and he should end up having an above-average fastball both in terms of velocity and movement. He flashes a promising changeup but will need to develop a more effective breaking ball at some point. The breaking ball may be the key, and if he can eventually miss some bats with the pitch, he has a chance to become a middle- or back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher in the big leagues.
2011 Outlook: After beginning his professional career in Spokane last summer, McBride should be slated for the Single-A Hickory rotation out of camp this season. The prospect appears to be ready to take the step forward, as he posted strong overall results and improved as the 2010 season progressed. He'll turn 20-years-old in May and will most likely spend the entire season with the Crawdads.
Discuss this story and others regarding the Rangers system on our subscriber-only message board.