Mason McGwire – Pic via ESPN
As soon as his name was read on day two of the draft, I had to look at the draft tracker just to make sure how his name was spelled. It was spelled just like how I thought it was and his dad was exactly who I thought it was. Regardless of Mason McGwire’s pedigree, that only goes so far and he’ll be the first to tell you that because Mason McGwire is going to make it on his own merits and hard work and not on his name.
Age – 18
Height – 6-foot-4
Weight – 190
Throws – Right
From – Capistrano Valley High School, CA
8th Round 2022 Draft
When you first see him in videos, he doesn’t look any different than most normal high school pitchers. He’s tall, he’s lanky, he could put on some weight and gain a few miles an hour. Those are most of the cliché things you’ll hear about every young pitcher.
McGwire, 18, was committed to playing at the University of Oklahoma but the Cubs were able to convince him to forgo his commitment and to sign with Chicago Cubs.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com broke down how McGwire learned his best pitch from Rollie Fingers. He supposedly asked Fingers how he threw a splitter in Fingers showed him and that’s how McGwire uses it. Bastian also described a trip the McGwires took to the Cubs facility in Mesa and how much Mason wanted to be a Cub based upon their technology.
Coming into the draft, McGwire had a track record of success high school. But it was on the showcase circuit where he pitched well against advanced competition. Here is what the Baseball Factory had to say about his talents:
Mason continues to show big upside on the mound and is a talented prospect for the 2022 class. Delivery is sound, repeatable, allowing his arm action to work well to the plate. He attacks hitters, throwing a lot of strikes as he works to get ahead of hitters through a quick tempo. Arm strength has improved as he threw his top velocity, topping out at 85 mph. Fastball shows slight arm side run. Split finger shows potential as being a quality pitch with sinking action. He maintains arm speed on his changeup with slight sink but is a pitch still in development. Control is solid as he throws strikes with all his pitches, locating to both sides of the plate. Stock on the mound will continue to rise as he builds more arm strength through a long toss program. Mental makeup is a plus as he is very coachable and willing to make adjustments to be the best player he can be.
As you can see, I bolded and underlined the last part because I think that the most important part of a pitcher is his make up. You’ve got to be willing to adapt. You have to be willing to change constantly as a starting pitcher in the major leagues.
According to Prep Baseball Report, McGwire throws a fastball that normally sits between 89 and 92 he has a slider that comes in quite a bit lower at 75 to 76 and his best pitch. His splitter, comes in around 74 and 75. I’m going to let you look at some videos of him and then we’ll talk afterwards about a possible plan for him going forward.
As you can probably tell in the videos, he gets some good movement on his pitches right now. And he’s been successful with the way that he’s been pitching. But the Cubs are going to tweak a few things.
The first thing they’re gonna do is strengthen them up a little bit but not too much at one time. The second thing they’re gonna get him to do is to get him to use his lower half more. They’re going to really work on building his legs up and driving to the plate and using his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage. That’ll increase his fastball and will also get him a little bit closer to the plate and take stress off his arm. Right now, he has been 90% arm. By using his legs, that will help reduce the stress in his upper half and mainly his shoulder and back area behind the scapula.
We are probably not going to get to see him pitch this year at all. If there are fall instructs, he’s going to be there. But in terms of getting in games that matter, pretty sure he’s done for the year. With just a week left in the Arizona Complex, it might be fun to give him a taste, but it’s also not worth risking an injury after basically being off for two months.
The development plan for him is simple.
Learn about eating properly, learning how to take care of your body on a daily basis, do your weight and arm strengthening programs, and the Cubs will worry about pitch development later. He’ll show up in spring training and they’ll go from there. How much he improves over the winter, which could be substantial for someone new, is going to determine where his 2023 assignment is going to be. Odds are he’ll come into spring training and the conservative route would be to go to extended spring training and let his performance there dictate if he heads to Myrtle Beach in June or if he goes to the rookie league. There’s nothing set in stone right now and nothing really should be other than his own physical development. Let’s worry about the pitches until next spring.