Name: Ian Clarkin
DOB: February 14, 1995
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball. Getting a fair and accurate velocity reading from Clarkin has been a difficult task to date due to all of the time he's missed with various injuries since his first round selection. When healthy and pitching for long stretches he shows a real ability to sustain an above average 91-94 mph velocity with his four-seam fastball that shows excellent natural tailing action and movement. The problem, however, is he's had a difficult time staying on the mound for long stretches and that has his velocity fluctuating down to the 88-92 mph at times too. The command and control have been average to borderline above average when he's been healthy enough to pitch, but again, the up and down nature of his development has had his command stall somewhat as well. Given his size though and track history of both above average velocity and command it stands to reason that he should be able to pick up right where he left off in both aspects once he's fully back and making start after start.
Other Pitches. What makes Clarkin so intriguing as a pitching prospect despite the various injuries is his killer curveball. Sitting mostly in the 77-81 mph range, it is a true wipeout pitch that shows second-to-none 12 to 6 late-diving action across the plate and it's a pitch that he can command extremely well. It's a true plus big league offering, perhaps even borderline plus-plus, especially long-term as he continues to master it. If there has been a benefit to his time missed with his ailing elbow it is the rather rapid development of his changeup. Certainly a below average pitch when he began his career, it now shows above average to plus potential with the fade and depth he's been able to put on it and he's shown advanced command of it in the early going too, especially considering how little he threw it in his earlier days. A use it or lose it pitch, his constant state of rehab over the past year has had him throwing that pitch more than ever and it's becoming a major weapon for him.
Pitching: There are a lot of moving parts to Clarkin's game, quite literally. He employs one of the more unique herky-jerky deliveries around and it can be a double-edged sword for him. While he shows an ability to repeat his unorthodox mechanics it can cause some inconsistencies with his command and that's where the lost development time has been the most detrimental. However, because his delivery is so unique it also provides great deception with all three of his pitches, all of which show above average or better movement, and batters have a hard time barreling up the baseball as a result. He shows advanced pitch-ability too and he brings a real cerebral element to the mound; he knows how to read and out-think batters. He is very athletic, fields his position well, and knows how to hold runners close in the running game. There is still a lot of work to be done ironing out his delivery and release but that also gives him a considerable ceiling command-wise, command which already grades out as average but has room to grow.
Projection. Clarkin is armed to the teeth with above average to plus stuff, movement, pitch-ability, and moxie, enough to safely project as a potential middle to back-end big league starting pitcher someday. What he doesn't have going for him yet is health and optimal command, two aspects of his game that go hand in hand unfortunately. He really needs ample mound time to not only build up the above average arm strength he has shown in spurts but to also enhance the command of his pitches. If he can avoid the training room going forward and get his above average velocity back [it not even improve it beyond that] while bettering his command his ceiling could be even higher, perhaps enough to slide into the front-half of a big league starting rotation. The ceiling is there, the question remains will he remain healthy enough to tap it.
ETA. 2018. Clarkin's ETA has been and still remains mostly predicated on his ability to stay healthy. He didn't pitch at all last season but ended his 2014 campaign in high-A Tampa. That should be his starting point to begin the 2016 season. Should he be able to stay healthy he should be a relatively quick riser through the minor leagues.