Leading up to the 2017 MLB Draft, Zach McCambley was on many pitching-hungry teams’ radars. However, knee issues eventually hurt his stock, and the righty from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania enrolled at Coastal Carolina in the fall.
As a freshman, McCambley emerged as an effective weapon for Gary Gilmore’s staff, racking up 50 strikeouts in 48 ⅔ innings per GoCCUSports.com. He was spotty with command at times, walking 25 batters over the course of the year. McCambley excelled at limiting hard contact, with just 10 extra-base hits out of 45 total.
His success earned him the Friday-night-starter role coming into the 2019 season but a sophomore slump reared its ugly head. McCambley showed flashes of his freshman self in a couple starts against Michigan State (6 IP, 0 R, 6 Ks/1 BB) and Troy (5 IP, 10 Ks), but struggled with command (13 HBP, up from 3 in 2018) and was demoted to mostly bullpen work towards the end of the year.
Despite his 2019 struggles, the Chanticleers’ coaches stuck with McCambley, throwing him right back into the starter role as the 2020 season began. In his shortened junior campaign the former Pocono Mountain East Cardinal excelled. Over 4 starts prior to cancellation, McCambley posted a 1.80 ERA, striking out 32 batters in 25 innings. He showcased his ability to pitch deep into games, throwing over 100 pitches in three of those four outings, and proved himself a worthy selection in this year’s draft.
Zach McCambley features an excellent fastball at 90-94 MPH, topping out at 96 with exceptional spin. His four-seamer plays well up in the zone and pairs effectively with his high-spin-rate curveball.
That curveball, sitting in the low-80s, is considered one of the best in his draft class and is rated a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale according to MLB.com. Its sharp downward break and change of speed enables McCambley to use the high-fastball/low-curve combination with great success, keeping hitters off balance the instant they step in the box.
Despite not developing much of a third pitch so far, scouts see a lot of potential in his changeup. Adding a solid third offering will be crucial for McCambley’s goals as a starter. However, he still will draw lots of attention from technologically advanced organizations regardless of his future role.
McCambley excelled in 2020 and in the Cape Cod summer league. Despite his great potential, he has not been particularly consistent over his college career. Commanding the baseball is becoming even more important for arms like McCambley who don’t feature triple-digit fastballs or wipeout sliders.
Although he cut his walks down over the course of his time in Conway, teams might look at his overall career with skepticism. His compact high ¾ delivery is not the cleanest. The high intent behind his release could limit his ability to locate. Many organizations love McCambley’s high ceiling, but might be wary of his inconsistency in the Sun Belt Conference more so than in a power conference like the SEC.
MLB Player Comp
Zach McCambley compares best to Texas Rangers reliever Cody Allen. Although Allen has struggled in recent years, he found great success in his closing role with the Cleveland Indians. Allen uses primarily a low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, similar to the young righthander, to miss bats.
Both right-handers feature high spin rates and have the most success getting fastballs above the hands of hitters. Additionally, their high-spinning fastballs are complemented by a sharp downward-breaking curveball that generates great swing-and-miss.
McCambley projects as a starter, but could definitely find a high-leverage bullpen role as he works through the professional ranks.
Sources: GoCCUSports.com, Baseball-Reference, Pitcher List, MLB.com, MaxPreps
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