ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For the first time in program history, a former USF baseball player will play in a Major League Baseball All-Star Game after Tampa Bay Rays’ ace pitcher Shane McClanahan was named to the American League All-Star team.
McClanahan might be the first, but he said he won’t be the last.
“That’s actually kind of surprising,” McClanahan said. “I know there were a lot of great players there, a lot of high draft picks. To hear that I was the first was actually pretty special, and surprising to me.”
“It’s huge. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime type deal,” USF baseball head coach Billy Mohl told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “The fact that he played in our program, pitched in our program and now he has a chance to start the 2022 MLB All-Star Game.”
McClanahan, a Cape Coral native, spent three seasons with the Bulls — racking up strikeouts and touching 100 miles per hour with his fastball.
“The arm talent was always there,” Mohl said. “It was one of the fastest arms you’d seen. When he was here, he was very dominant with the fastball. Now you watch him and it’s 97-100 mph with a curveball, slider, and change-up, any pitch at any time.”
McClanahan has put himself in the Cy Young conversation this season while posting an A.L. best 1.73 earned run average and an MLB-leading 141 strikeouts. But it wasn’t until this season that he fully realized his potential.
“I’ll be the first to tell you, I don’t think I was ready maturity-wise,” he said. “I felt overwhelmed, I wasn’t very consistent. I wasn’t very good for a while there. I definitely have been working on myself a lot, mentally and physically. I’m trying to be a great teammate.”
His former South Florida teammate, David Villar, is also having success on the big-league level.
“David (Villar) played with Shane, he was the captain of the 2018 team,” Mohl said. “That was Shane’s draft year, both drafted the same year. David got his call-up with the Giants. He hit a home run and actually had an inside-the-parker last night.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have some great players come through here. Phoenix Sanders has been up and down with the Rays, Pete Strzelecki has been up and down with the Brewers, and Jimmy Herget has been with the Angels full-time. He’s on the injured list right now. Austin Adams with the Padres. So many USF players up the Bigs making us all proud.”
McClanahan will make his last start before the All-Star break against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.