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November 27, 2006

by Fabian

Zach McAllister, RHP, 18
Previously Ranked:
What Others Say:
Pinstripes Plus N/A, Baseball America N/A, John Sickels 15th (C+)

Physical Ability: Zach McAllister is a BIG righty with untapped physical potential that the Yankees are hoping they can harvest. Listed at 6’5’’ and 230 pounds, McAllister was only touching the low 90s at draft time. In addition his go-to secondary pitches were a rough slider and chage-up combination. However, due to being the son of a cross-checker, McAllister had the “polished” tag attached to him and the Yankees picked him up. Since draft day, McAllister’s fastball velocity can now be pegged at low 90s due to mechanical adjustments made by the Yankees as well as by emphasizing the 4-seamer with him. He is also in the process of picking up a curveball to replace his slider. Finally, McAllister’s change-up has to this point been lauded as perhaps the best pitch in his arsenal and an easy plus pitch right now.

What Happened in ’06: McAllister signed quickly and was sent to the GCL where he was most frequently seen as part of a starter tag-team duo with Dellin Betances. Drafted as a sinkerballer, McAllister was able to experience some early success despite a BB:K ratio of 9:8 through his first 19 professional innings. The reason for this is that over that same span of time he held a groundball to flyball ratio of 43:12, which is…absurdly good. The Yankees have a club policy of not altering a player’s game until 30 days into their career and it was about the conclusion of those first 19 innings that they decided to make the aforementioned modifications to McAllister’s approach and mechanics. The result was that over the final 16 innings of the season McAllister improved his BB:K ratio to 3:20 and his groundball to flyball ratio was still excellent at 23:10.

What Lies Ahead: Zach should begin the year as a member of the Low A Charleston rotation and it seems that physically, the changes that needed to be made have been made, and so what is going to be critical is continuing to work on the mental aspects of the game. This means continuing to have confidence in the 4-seam fastball as well as his changeup and working in a curveball every now and then. McAllister is also going to have to do a better job of buckling down with runners on as he was guilty of giving up “the big hit” in ’06, though the sample size was small. Another small sample size concern is that McAllister struggled through some control problems against lefty batters.

Grade: McAllister has everything I look for from a statistical perspective in a pitching prospect and I am bullish on him, as the scouting end seems to hold up with his performance record. Hopefully, his big body will allow him to more easily handle some of the fatigue that pitchers deal with in their first full season. The mental side of the game is going to be especially critical for him, and that’s where having his particular baseball background may come in handy, as it seems that pitchers of his ilk, extreme groundballers, often have to deal with adversity in the form of ugly numbers early in their career. This is thanks in part to poor minor league fields and unpolished defenders. If he can get through that ok, he should be a very interesting pitcher. C+

Angel Reyes #22