Offseason Prospect Overview: Bailey Clark

Bailey Clark (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Bailey Clark (photo by Rikk Carlson)

Season Review

baileyclark

Clark dominated in the three weeks he spent with South Bend as a member of their bullpen last April. It became clear Clark required a tougher challenge. I haven't gone back through every transaction, but I'm pretty sure Clark's late April promotion was the earliest received of any of the Cubs prospects last year. He struggled with control in a couple of his initial outings in Myrtle Beach, but he soon settled in. By the end of May Clark was performing well enough that the club had expanded his role into that of a starting pitcher. He struck out 10 batters while allowing just 3 earned runs in 9 innings over his first two starts but an injury sidelined him in June and July. Upon returning in August, he returned to the pen and remained effective, but his stuff lacked the same crispness. The Cubs sent him to the Arizona Fall League to make up for some of the lost development time. He remained healthy, and pitched in the AFL showcase game, but still lacked his early season form.

Positives

When he is on his game, there are few pitchers in the organization better at changing the eye level of hitters. Clark is capable of running his fastball up to 97 with life at the top of the zone, then come back and get good downward plane as he pounds the bottom of the zone. His fastball velocity has wavered over the course of his career, however, and when he sits more in the low-90s becomes far more hittable.

Like his fastball, his secondaries can also be inconsistent. He will throw some wipeout sliders in the low-to-mid-80s with impressive depth and lateral movement in one outing, but at other times the pitch will flatten out and lack any bite. It is an effective chase pitch when he has the feel. His changeup remains inconsistent as well, but flashes as an effective out pitch against lefties when he keeps it low in the zone.

Negatives

Nagging injuries have plagued Clark stretching back to his time at Duke. It has no doubt contributed to the tremendous amount of inconsistency in his game over the past three years. Clark has never been able to settle into a role for very long before something (injury or mechanical) has cropped up. It not only affects his control but his stuff as well. He often seems to be in reset mode rather than midseason form.

Summation

Clark has the makings of a power reliever. When on top of his game he features an above average fastball and slider alongside a useable changeup. It gives him the ability to work effectively against hitters from both sides of the plate and multiple innings when locked in. He's got to show he can remain healthy though before the Cubs (or any team) will trust him as a key member of a bullpen.

2019 Outlook

The Cubs have messed around with sticking him into the starting rotation the past couple of years at times, I'm sure in an effort to get him more innings and also to force him into developing his offspeed pitches, but I really hope that experiment can be put to rest moving forward. Yes, his secondaries still need work, but Clark desperately needs the opportunity to settle into role and see if he can find his groove over a long stretch. I would like to see him open as a 2-3 inning reliever in Tennessee and for the Cubs to leave him there all season. Give him a chance to succeed with no disruptions. Unfortunately, I have the feeling he will return to Myrtle Beach for a while before getting his first shot with the Smokies.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • He sounds like someone to keep an eye on.

  • fb_avatar

    He was a power pitcher coming out of college and maybe injuries affected his FB, but if he can regain it as a plus pitch he can be effective as you said. Like so many others here, he needs consistency in his pitches.
    Thanks again for the work you put it Michael.

  • Just want him to stay healthy all year so everyone can see what he can do.

Leave a comment