Peaceful, easy feeling: Kade McClure combined with Kannapolis and Winston-Salem to post a rock-solid 3.25 ERA, and should be in the mix for Birmingham’s rotation for 2020. (Hype the Engineer/Winston-Salem Dash)
Under the Radar details players in the Chicago White Sox system who may have suffered setbacks, gotten lost in the shuffle, or just haven’t surfaced as significant prospects as of yet. Next up is Kade McClure, a right-handed starter who’s excelled since being selected in the sixth round of the 2017 draft.
With a name that inspires multiple references from The Simpsons, McClure has been one of the most effective pitchers in the White Sox system since he was drafted in the sixth round out of Louisville in 2017. In retrospect, it was a bit surprising that McClure lasted so long that year, as he combined to go 20-4 in his sophomore and junior starts, covering 33 appearances. During those two years spanning 181 innings, McClure limited opponents to just 130 hits and 56 walks while striking out 188. It’s possible McClure’s stock fell as his numbers did decline a bit from his stellar sophomore campaign, when he went 12-0 with a rock-solid 2.54 ERA and 0.88 WHIP spanning 78 innings by allowing just 49 hits and 20 walks while fanning 27.
After being drafted, McClure combined with the AZL Sox, Great Falls and Kannapolis to post an incredible 0.82 ERA and 0.55 in his 10 relief outings as he surrendered just three hits and three walks while fanning 19 in 11 innings. McClure was off to a great start last year with Kannapolis in his return to the rotation over eight starts, posting a 3.02 ERA. However, McClure was injured on a comeback liner last May, which forced him to undergo season-ending surgery in order to repair ligament damage and a dislocated kneecap.
McClure split the 2019 season evenly between Kannapolis and Winston-Salem. The righty held up to a true pro workload, more than doubling his inning total from his previous two seasons combined. His numbers with the Intimidators and Dash have been nearly identical. For Kannapolis in 10 starts spanning 55 1/3 innings, McClure posted a 3.09 ERA and 1.23 WHIP by ceding 56 hits (.256 OBA), 12 walks (5.1%) and 50 strikeouts (21.3%); for Winston-Salem in 12 starts totaling 66 1/3 innings, he posted a 3.39 ERA and 1.22 WHIP by relinquishing 64 hits (.252 OBA) and 17 walks (6.2%) while fanning 49 (17.8%).
These are the numbers he posted altogether for 2019:
22 G, 22 GS, 4-6, 3.25 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 121.2 IP, 120 H (.254 OBA), 29 BB (5.7%), 99 K (19.4%)
According to FanGraphs, McClure’s repertoire features a 90-94 mph fastball that touches 95 with good extension, with a slider and changeup that both flash above-average at times. At 6´7´´ and 235 pounds, McClure’s build is similar to Alec Hansen’s, making his pitches likely difficult for opponents to pick up. While McClure doesn’t offer Hansen’s high-octane heat and significant upside, he has featured far better control and consistency throughout his college and professional career to date. McClure’s changeup helps stymie lefties somewhat, though they hit him at a better clip (.275) than righties (.244). His ground out-to-fly out rate has basically been 1:1 throughout his professional career, so that could be a concern if he makes it to Charlotte or Chicago.
Because of his injuries, McClure has yet to appear for Birmingham. While it’s possible he could begin next year at Winston-Salem, it’s easy to imagine him eventually finding his way to Birmingham and Charlotte by season’s end, due to his ability to throw strikes and commanding mound presence. McClure will turn 24 next February, and he’ll be Rule 5 eligible after the 2020 season.
If he maintains his health while continuing to produce, it’s not difficult to imagine McClure inserting himself into the White Sox plans for 2021 — as anywhere from a fifth starter to a setup role in the bullpen.