The MLB draft is moving quickly through the rounds this afternoon and the Twins were back on the clock at pick #159. With it, they again went back to the college starting pitcher ranks, and selected 6-foot-3 left hander Christian MacLeod from College World Series Champion Mississippi State.
An Alabama native, MacLeod was a fixture in the Bulldogs weekend rotation that also included Giants’ first round choice Will Bednar. For his collegiate career, MacLeod struck out 148 of 442 (33.4%) batters he faced and held opposing hitters to just a .226 batting average.
This past season, he struck out 113 batters against 33 walks over 82.2 innings pitched. Through the end of the regular season, his ERA was 3.14, but he struggled mightily in SEC and NCAA tournament play. Those struggles included back to back starts in the College World Series where he failed to pitch through the second inning. Those rough outings at the end of the season ballooned his season ERA to 5.23.
MLB.com has this to say about their #113 ranked draft prospect:
MacLeod’s best pitch is a plus upper-70s curveball with good depth that plays well off his fastball. His heater has below-average velocity at 87-93 mph but is effective because he commands it, tunnels it well with his curve and it has high spin rates and riding life that keep it off barrels. He also has the makings of at least an average changeup in the low 80s with sink. MacLeod uses his 6-foot-4 frame and high three-quarters arm slot to create downhill plane on his pitches and good extension in his delivery, which he repeats easily. His strength, durability and efficiency with locating his offerings all enhance his chances at making a big league rotation. He keeps hitters off balance with his ability to sequence his pitches and move them around the strike zone.
Despite the rough finish to the college season, there are some reasons to think the Twins might have gotten a steal with MacLeod in the fifth round. Heading into this season, many prospect evaluators were penciling him into the first round of the draft thanks to the high spin fastball and curveball combination. But MacLeod’s velocity backed up a few ticks this spring and he was available for the Twins at #159.
MacLeod’s repertoire, delivery, and experience all point to him having a good chance to remain a mid to backend starting pitcher prospect and you have to imagine the Twins are looking at him with an eye toward regaining the velocity that made him a possible first rounder. Even with the diminished stuff, ESPN’s prospect guru Kiley McDaniel had a third round grade on MacLeod. It will be interesting to see how the Twins maneuver their bonus pool money to try to convince him to sign instead of heading back to Starkville for a shot at improving his draft position next year.
Twins Scouting Director Sean Johnson said before the draft that the club felt the strength of this year’s draft class was college pitching. With three college starting pitcher selections already today, in addition to first round pitcher Chase Petty yesterday, the Twins seem to be following through on that line of thinking.