Cubs Prospect Update: Bailey Clark Finishing Strong
Technology is pretty cool.
Now that school has started, I don’t get to stay up and watch the Eugene Emeralds every night. Instead, I watch the first couple of innings and I’m asleep by 10 o’clock Central. However, when I get home from school the next day, I can sit down and watch the archived version of the game. I got quite the treat recently watching Bailey Clark shut out the Boise Hawks for five innings in his last start for the Ems.
Clark’s ERA is now under 4.00 after two excellent starts in a row. Considering consistency is the main thing that he needs to work on, that is a good sign. And it was enough to get him promoted, albeit for a very short period. While he only struck out three in this most recent outing, I was more impressed with things that did not show up in the box score.
While he has been known to throw in the mid-90’s, Clark was mostly in the low 90’s with some movement in his last start. He also looked to be coming more over the top, creating a more downhill plane on his fastball. As a result, he got high choppers, weak ground balls, and pop-ups. Eugene’s defense has had its share of troubles, but that was not the case this time. Most of the fly balls hung up in the air and no one really squared Clark up all night long.
Getting Out of Jams
He was able to work around two baserunners and avoid the big inning in both the 2nd and 3rd. There have been plenty of times this season where he has struggled with men on base. The defense certainly helped, but Clark made the pitches he needed to make for those things to happen. He kept the ball down in the zone and he was able to move it in and out.
I really liked that he had a nice pace in between pitches and didn’t waste a lot of time. He got the ball, got the sign, and got things going quickly. He wasn’t rushing, but he just had a nice steady rhythm, which I think kept him loose and kept hitters off balance.
Tight Breaking Ball
I really liked the tightness of Clark’s breaking ball last night. It looked to have a sharp descent from 1 to 7. He threw more breaking balls than usual, but didn’t necessarily pitch off of it. Rather, he used it almost like a changeup. He did catch several hitters napping, but everything worked off his fastball command.
Consistency is the big thing for Clark. Monday was his 11th start and he is likely to have two more in the regular season. That’s going to put him close to 55 innings on the year, which doesn’t seem like much. It’s a nice jumping-off point, though.
He has a 1.69 ERA in August that includes an outing in which he only lasted 1/3 of an inning yet somehow only gave up one run.
We really haven’t seen what all Clark can do since short-season ball is such a small glimpse into the life of a pitcher. There were a lot of things going on with him last year after a poor season at Duke and this month he seems to have found a groove, which I really like.
I can’t say this about too many arms in the Cub’s system, but I think Clark has what it takes. He still needs to develop a lot over the next year, mainly just by being consistent from outing to outing. I am really looking forward to getting an extended look in person when he gets to South Bend next season.