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USF pitcher drafted in first round

Former USF starting pitcher Shane McClanahan. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS.COM

Former USF left-handed pitcher Shane McClanahan was drafted with the 31st overall pick in the MLB Draft on Monday by the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Bulls’ ace became the program’s third-highest draft pick all-time and the first ever USF pitcher to be drafted in the first round. McClanahan became the second USF pitcher to be drafted by Tampa Bay in as many years, following Phoenix Sanders being picked in the 10th round of 2017’s draft.

The redshirt sophomore started 14 games for the Bulls in 2018, posting a 5-6 record with a 3.42 ERA in 76.1 innings pitched, striking out a team high 120 batters.

McClanahan was projected by many experts to go in the top 10 of this year’s draft and seemed to be well on his way to doing so through the first few weeks of the season — which included a 15-strikeout performance over six innings in a combined no-hitter against Army West Point on March 16.

But McClanahan’s draft stock fell once conference play began, as he struggled with command problems. McClanahan walked 26 batters, allowed four home runs and threw three wild pitches in 35.2 innings in AAC play, en route to a 2-5 record against conference opponents.

However, McClanahan continued to strike out batters — striking out 55 during AAC play alone. The upside of a ton of strikeouts is what drew Tampa Bay to him, according to Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom.

“This is a strong, athletic kid,” Bloom said to “He has walked a few guys. But he's also struck out a ton of guys. He's missed a ton of bats. So there's a lot to like there."

McClanahan will not be the only familiar face departing USF this offseason.

Seniors Duke Stunkel Jr.’s and Peter Strzelecki’s time at USF came to an end following Sunday’s 6-1 loss to Oklahoma State in the DeLand Regional.

Strzelecki credited his time at USF as key to overcoming adversity in his personal life.

“Whenever anyone asks me about USF, it’ll just be nothing but good things,” Strzelecki said. “I lost my father (in 2017) … without (my teammates), I don’t know if I would have made it this far. There’s really no words to describe it.”

With the loss of both McClanahan and Strzelecki, USF’s pitching staff is set to look drastically different next season. Only sophomore Collin Sullivan started more than one AAC game this season, going 1-0 with a 4.88 ERA over 31.1 innings pitched in eight conference starts.

Closer Andrew Perez was also selected in the 2018 MLB Draft. The Chicago White Sox selected the left-handed junior in the eighth round with the 228th overall pick.

Several other juniors are likely to depart the program as well – including third baseman David Villar, first baseman Joe Genord and shortstop Coco Montes.

Perez went 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA and recorded 12 saves in 2018. Genord and Villar combined for 28 of USF’s 56 homers and 111 of the Bulls’ 333 RBIs. Montes recorded a 20-game hitting streak late in the season, which was ultimately snapped in Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma State.  

Despite the outgoing talent, coach Billy Mohl remains optimistic about his program’s future.

“We’re only moving forward,” Mohl said. “This year was supposed to be a down year. The early reports on us — we were supposed to struggle this year. These guys took that to heart and they came out and proved them wrong.”