by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
He was terrible in April, closing the month with a 7.43 ERA. However as soon as the calendar turned to May things turned quickly. Over five starts (29.2 IP) he’s posted a 2.43 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, as he’s shown all of the skills that we look for from a starting pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 10.79 K/9
- Control – 2.47 BB/9
- Groundballs – 1.26 GO/AO
Over his minor league career he owns an 8.3 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and 0.70 GO/AO, so it’s easy to question two of the three skills. Maybe it’s a small sample size, but maybe he also has figured something out. Prior to the season Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 described his arsenal by saying:
“Clarke is better than people think with a nice arsenal that plays up because he throws strikes. His fastball sits 92 to 93 MPH and can touch higher. He throws both a slider and curve with his slider being the better swing and miss pitch while also showing a feel of a changeup.”
He’s not necessarily a difference maker, but he’s posted an overall 10.0% SwStr% this season after an 11.3% mark in ’17. That number does indicate a little bit more upside in the strikeout department, and while we wouldn’t predict this type of strikeout rate it’s possible he settles in as an 8.50 K/9 type pitcher.
The bigger question is the ability to generate groundballs, as even with this type of GO/AO he still allowed 4 HR (1.23 HR/9). The humidor in Arizona could help, but the long ball was the big concern entering the season and there’s been little to change that.
Entering the year we ranked him as the team’s fifth best prospect (C+ grade) and that grade still applies today. He’s likely a back-end starting pitcher and that’s the role he’ll fill. Continue to view him as a C+ type pitcher who could be burned by the long ball consistently.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Prospect 361
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: