You have to really like a pitcher to take him in the early rounds out of a Junior College, so we assume the Angels must really like Michael Clevinger. Clevinger was taken in the fourth round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Seminole State College in Oklahoma. Never heard of it? We haven't either. Michael Clevinger though is someone we have heard of, and we like him. Tommy John surgery took Clevinger away from the game in 2013, but we're excited for what he'll bring to the table over the 2014 campaign.
When healthy, Clevinger has a pretty decent arsenal. Don't laugh at this, but his fastball sits anywhere between 89-95. Yeah... that sounds odd to us too. When we asked a scout about Clevinger's speed, he said he only has one fastball, a four-seam, and that some starts it is 89-92, and other starts it's 93-95. So we called an old coach of Clevinger's, and he told us the same thing. I'm sure after surgery, we'll get an actual idea of his pitch speed, but right now, his fastball is a high 80's to mid 90's fastball.
Clevinger's big problem is following through in his delivery to the plate while throwing his fastball, his arm slot drops progressively as games go on, and he tends to overthrow the ball sometimes. Clevinger's three-quarter arm-slot delivery has helped with his off-speed pitches and their ability to break. Something even more special about Clevinger's off-speed pitches though is his command and ability to throw them over the plate.
Clevinger has a changeup that has become his most effective swing and miss pitch, and is probably the best overall pitch in his arsenal. He also has a slider that is very effective in forcing groundballs. Clevinger's final pitch in his arsenal is a 12-6 curveball, just to throw something very off-speed and get batter's unbalanced, that became his two-strike pitch just prior to the injury.
According to an Angels scout, all four of Clevinger's pitches are "Major League average or better, and can only get better."
Clevinger has so little amount of stats, we could break down his game to game stats even. Clevinger has a career 4.26 earned run average and 1.322 WHIP over 11 starts and three relief appearances right out of the draft.
In 2012, we at least got a glimpse of Clevinger, when he posted a 3.73 earned run average over eight starts that lasted 41 innings of pitching in Low-A. Over that same span, Clevinger struck out 34 (7.8 K per nine) while walking 13 (3.4 BB per nine).
Sadly, Clevinger's last season only had three starts, including his last one with the Orem Owlz in the Pioneer League where he went 2.2 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and a pair of walks.
EXPECTED OF THE FUTURE:
As for an immediate future, Michael Clevinger should be in a starting rotation in Single-A in 2014. It probably won't be High-A Inland Empire right off the bat, but instead, Low-A Burlington. Clevinger could even be the "ace" of that rotation next season.
It's hard to predict progression in the not so immediate future for Clevinger due to his recent injury and Tommy John surgery. He will more than likely stay a starting pitcher over his minor league time, but has not proven that he will be a future Major League starter in any way. It is obvious that the Angels expect Clevinger to make the majors, and so do we. If healthy, scouts see Clevinger in the Majors by 2016, and we agree. Hopefully the injury will not deter Clevinger from his progression and possible outstanding future MLB career.
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