Michael McAvene – Picture by Todd Johnson
Either tonight or tomorrow, it looks like Michael McAvene will appear in an actual game at a full-season affiliate for the first time. The former Louisville closer has had to overcome injuries the past year and a half and I am excited to see his debut!
Height – 6‘3“
Weight – 207
Throws – Right
Age – 24
From – Indianapolis
In 2019, McAvene was coming off a storied junior season as the closer for the University of Louisville. He struck out 50 in 30 innings with a 2.73 ERA that spring. Here is what MLB Pipeline thought of McAvene before the draft
McAvene’s strong 6-foot-3 frame is built for durability and he’s throwing more strikes than ever, so Chicago will explore the possibility of making him a starter. To succeed in the rotation, he’ll need to develop a changeup after having little use for one in the past. If he winds up in the bullpen, he has a ceiling of a setup man.
The weird thing about the Cubs selecting McAvene was that they wanted him to be a starter. It’s easy to see why you meet him in person. He’s a pretty good sized young man. He’s got wide shoulders, there’s room to add some weight without getting too bulky, and he’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders along with a bulldog mentality, which is something I covet in a pitcher.
Due to the fact that he had already pitched a full season in the spring, McAvene did not pitch much after being drafted. He only got in six games and pitched 12.2 innings with a 1.42 ERA in Eugene. But those were 12.2 spectacular innings that whetted everybody’s appetite for more from him as a starter. It his short Cubs tenure that summer, McAvene struck out 20 batters and had a batting average against of just .119 to go along with a WHIP 0.71. Just based on his statistics you could see why everybody was drooling over his future potential.
Let’s go to the video and take a look at Exhibits A, B, and C and the potential.
Exhibit A – The Heater – 95-97
Exhibit B – The Slider
Exhibit C – The Slider and the Heater Combo
Unfortunately, after the pandemic, injuries came and McAvene missed almost all of 2021. He did get in one game in the Arizona Complex League last fall and pitched 0.2 innings and it did not go as good as it could.
There are those among you who still would like to see McAvene move back to the bullpen. And there are those among you who would like to see what he can do as a starter. I just want to see him pitch right now. Pure and simple. I’d love to see him get in the game, throw a couple innings, and spend the rest of the year staying healthy and building up strength in the arm.
Once the Cubs decide what will happen next year, then he can go all out next year whatever that role is. The goal right now is not to set his future in stone. It’s to keep him healthy and throwing well. The Cubs can adjust along with McAvene to whatever that role is going to be next year. The next three months are about getting in 40ish innings this year and getting in the routine of pitching once or twice a week again.
He will probably debut tomorrow night in Davenport.