Clarkin Getting His Feet Wet

TAMPA, FL - It has barely been a year since Ian Clarkin left high school for the minor leagues, but this left-handed pitcher has already landed on the high-A Tampa Yankees. His quick advancement in the organization have some wondering how swiftly a 19-year old could move up the ladder in to the majors.

“For me, the age shouldn’t be an issue," Tampa Yankees manager Al Pedrique said. "If the guy shows you that he is making some adjustments, that he is getting better, that he is dominating in that level, then I am thinking 100 percent that you should challenge players.

“That is how they mature, that is how they learn how to play and work against adversity. Because sooner or later, they are going to hit the wall. I think that at the young age, if they start dealing with adversity and learn how to handle it and be successful, I think it is better. The sooner, the better.”

Clarkin had a short season in Charleston, where he was placed this year after his first full Spring Training. Though he hadn’t been expecting to start off in Charleston, he felt that his time there had been successful in getting outs and perfecting some of the mechanics.

“My goal this year was to end in Charleston and I started in Charleston, which was fantastic,” Clarkin said. “I was happy where I was in Charleston, and you know I was pitching pretty well up there.

"I don’t think about that kind of stuff - promotions or demotions or anything like that. It’s just not my job, but it was in the back of my mind, you know, maybe they will get my feet wet in high-A this year.”

He had a very solid 15 starts for the Charleston RiverDogs, posting a 3.21 ERA, allowing less hits than innings pitched, and striking out essentially a batter per inning before earning his call-up to high-A Tampa.

Last week’s debut against the Brevard County Manatees went as well as could be expected for Clarkin too, who pitched five innings, only giving up a single run towards the end of his time on the mound. He got off to a rocky start in the first inning before getting a series of outs until he left the field.

“His composure was better after that first inning, he was more aggressive attacking the zone, and he showed a good breaking ball. I think he just needs to tighten that breaking ball a little more,” Pedrique opined.

“He threw some good fastballs, in and out of the strike zone, kept it down for the most part. But personally, I thought he threw a lot of breaking balls. I saw some good changeups.”

It may be too early to tell about what Clarkin can do on the field, but Pedrique feels that based off Clarkin’s bullpen and the little he has pitched, this left-handed pitcher has real potential. The first game, a 6-4 win for Clarkin and the Yankees, left the newcomer feeling positive and confident.

“I had a good bullpen going into it, extremely hot and that first inning I wasn’t really nervous or anything – I don’t get nervous," Clarkin said. "I was just a little erratic on the first guy, I couldn’t keep the ball down.

"I got outs when I needed it, I got ground balls when I needed it. That last inning, I got two blooper hits on first and second, [and then] I got a ground ball for two outs.

“I had a runner on third and had them two-two. I beat them with a fastball and he breaks his bat and gets a base hit. So that was a little frustrating considering it was about to be five shutout innings, and then they scored a run. But I left the team with a chance to win, so that was always great.”

Going forward in to the final few weeks of the season, Pedrique is hoping to see Clarkin, currently on the disabled list, throw the breaking ball a little bit harder and establish the fastball early on in the game.

The biggest adjustment for this pitcher, however, is dealing with failure and adversity that he had not experienced before, something he learned to some degree in Charleston.

“I knew it was going to happen, dealing with failure. I have never dealt with failure before. Definitely after Savannah, I gave up six runs in like four innings [that start] and just trying to bounce back from that. You try and put it behind you. And like, you did but it was always in the back of your mind,” Clarkin said.

“After that, I started pitching poorly and I just got inside my head too much. What changed, I think I had a couple more days off between my next start and then I just got on a roll. So I had to adjust to failure and not worry about how many runs I give up a game.”

Despite hitting that road bump early on in the South Atlantic League season, Clarkin displays a lot of maturity for a young player in his first year. As a self-claimed perfectionist, he works hard at executing his own pitches without worrying about who the hitters may be.

While it may be hard to tell after one game in high-A, his work ethic and strong character shows serious potential from a young age.

“I mean, you talk to him, he is a very smart kid. He knows what he is doing and he knows the expectations for where he wants to go. Like I said, I have been watching him for a little bit, the way he goes about his business, I think he has a bright future,” Pedrique concluded.

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