[image title="mcallister" size="full" id="4019" align="right" ]Age: 21
Weight: 230 lbs
Position: Starting Pitcher
The Fifth Commandment movie Throws: Right
2008 Team: Tampa Yankees
Current Team: Trenton Thunder
The Good: McAllister is a big guy, and throws like one. He was blessed with tons of natural sink due to his height and natural motion in high school. Although he threw a 4-seam fastball, it was commonly mistaken for a 2-seamer. The Yankees got him throwing a 2-seamer exclusively, and worked to make his 4-seam fastball more of a power offering. The result has become a deadly combination of movement and velocity. McAllister can throw a live 93 mph 4-seamer up in the zone, and follow it up with a 90-91 mph sinker at the knees. His control is superb. All else being average, McAllister’s control would make him a major league pitcher. His slider and changeup are average or better. McAllister is well-rounded as a pitcher, and has no tragic flaw.
The Bad: He does not strike a lot of batters out. Part of this was due to the tumultuous development of his breaking pitch. McAllister was drafted as a classic sinker-slider pitcher. The Yankees wanted to make him in to more of a power pitcher, so they shelved his slider in favor of a curveball. He spent much of 2007 and 2008 throwing the curveball, but he never mastered it. His slider is now his primary breaking pitch. We’ve already seen a boost to his strikeout rates in 2009, and I’m willing to bet he remains at the 7.5-8.0 K/9 rate for the season.
Projection: It seems like McAllister has been around forever, but he does not turn 22 until December. We haven’t yet seen the best of the young pitcher. McAllister probably does not project, in the best of worlds, as an ace. He doesn’t strike out a ton of batters, and lacks any truly overwhelming qualities. He isn’t a true ground ball machine like Derek Lowe, but he also doesn’t strike out a ton of batters. In many ways, he resembles Carl Pavano. Pavano was another big, tall guy with strong control, ground ball tendencies, and an average strikeout rate I could see the same for McAllister.
Optimism: I usually don’t put a lot of stock in minor league ERAs, but McAllister has maintained a steady ERA under 2.00 for a season and a half now. Since hitting the the full-season leagues, he has the second-lowest ERA of any pitcher across the bottom three full-season minor league levels as far as I can tell. Madison Baumgarner is first. He just isn’t allowing runs to cross the plate, despite the limitations of bumpy minor league infields and less-than-surehanded infielders. That is a major accomplishment.
Pessimism: There is little to be pessimistic about with McAllister. He doesn’t appear to have ace-type stuff, so his ceiling isn’t quite as high as guys like Brackman, Betances, Hughes, or Chamberlain. He is more like Ian Kennedy.
Bottom Line: Zach McAllister is a strong all-around pitcher who could eat a lot of innings for the Yankees.
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