After losing almost the entire season due to Tommy John surgery, Michael Clevinger actually moved up our prospect list. How'd he manage to pull that off and what more can we expect from him now that his arm works again?
Position: RHP Highest Level: Rookie
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6'4" Weight: 210
Age: 23 Born: 12/21/90
2013 Rank: #24
2013 Season Stats
AZL: 3 IP, 0-0, 3.00 ERA, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 HR, 3 SO, 3.20 FIP, .250 BABIP, 37.5 GB%
Orem: 2.2 IP, 0-1, 16.88 ERA, 6 H, 2 BB, 0 HR, 2 SO, 5.08 FIP, .500 BABIP, 58.3 GB%
Fastball = B
Before injury, Clevinger’s fastball was perhaps his most inconsistent pitch. In one showing earlier in the 2012 season, he hit 94-95 mph with regularity, in another showing later in the year, his fastball sat 89-91. As we know now, injury probably played a strong role in the diminished speed. If Clevinger makes a full recovery, his fastball should again reach the mid-90's.
Offspeed Pitches = B
Before injury, Clevinger offered three off-speed pitches. A very good groundball inducing slider with heavy drop, a “plus” change-up that sinks down and in on RHB and a “get me over curve” just to show hitters something different. What excites scouts most about Clevinger is that he had three "plus" graded pitches, two of which were off-speed pitches, which bodes well for his future.
Control = B
In the eight starts Clevinger made in 2012, he flashed well above average control of all of his pitches. Hopefully this quality returns for 2014 after a lost 2013.
Command = B
Part of what makes Clevinger’s off-speed pitches particularly effective is that he threw them over the plate, which is a rarity among low minor leaguers and suggests Clevinger could potentially climb the minor league ladder rather quickly once he is fully healthy.
Mechanics = D
Clevinger’s mechanics take considerable effort considering he’s a starter. This may or may not have led to the surgery and subsequent rehab year in 2014. Clevinger had a habit of not finishing his full delivery and following through as well. His three-quarter arm slot does stay consistent across every pitch though.
Performance = Incomplete
Any actual performance Clevinger gave us in 2014 was merely rehab appearances in Rookie Ball. Think nothing of them.
Projection = B+
A young starter with three "plus" offerings, command and control and a large projectable pitcher's frame to boot. If it weren't for the injury, Clevinger may have crept into the Top 100 prospect lists in 2013. As it stands, we are all eagerly awaiting his return to the mound. Whether it be as a starter or reliever (everything suggests it should be as a starter until conditions change), Clevinger has the look of a future major leaguer. Admittedly, he would've ranked in the Top 5-10 on this list again had he not gone under the knife.
Grade as a Prospect = C+/B-
Every good organization in baseball has good, projectable arms like Clevinger. That's what makes them "good", and if the Angels had more of them, they'd be considered "good" as well. When healthy, we could easily grade him out as a solid B or even a B+. Still, he's an above average prospect, even when you consider the lost season in 2013.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = 2017
At the earliest, mid 2015, which would assume that he's fully healthy and conquers both the California League and Texas League in 2014. A more likely scenario would have Clevinger spend the year in the Cal League, followed by a year in AA and AAA. So at the latest, probably 2017.
2013 in Review*
For all intents and purposes Clevinger didn't play this year as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. He did make three appearances combined for AZL and Orem, but those were rehab appearances, so don't bother reading anything into those numbers. The only thing noteworthy about them is that they happened, which means Clevinger was healthy enough to pitch, which is great news. Due to his recovery (and the relative poorness of the rest of the system), Clevinger has moved up five spots in our rankings over last year, which is a pretty neat trick.
The hope is that 2014 will be the first season in which we get a fully healthy campaign from Clevinger. It remains to seen though what kind of workload he is able to handle. There was already something of a consensus that Clevinger was destined to wind up in the bullpen because of his high effort delivery, so the Halos might use his TJ surgery as justification to just make that move now. However, Clevinger has enough of an arsenal that he should get a shot at sticking in the rotation if the Halos believe that he is durable enough for it.
One thing to monitor with Clevinger is where his velocity settles in. In 2012, his heater ranged from sitting in the high-80's to sitting in this mid-90's. That's obviously kind of a big deal and it was generally assumed that the inconsistency was due to his arm problems. He'll have to prove that it was, in fact, health issues that caused his velocity to fluctuate so much and not deeper mechanical troubles.
*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.