Brandon Clarke is healthy and one of the more intriguing prep arms in the country this spring.
The left-handed pitcher from Independence High in Virginia underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2019. He slowly worked his way back and didn’t throw off a mound at 100% until one year after his surgery.
Over the last few months, Clarke has ramped up his preparation for his senior season. He pitched at the Prep Baseball Report’s Super 60 Pro Showcase in February. He will pitch in three games in a spring league in March and April before his high school season starts April 26.
Now fully recovered from the injury, Clarke is a highly-sought-after prospect. Scouts will flock to see Clarke pitch this spring in preparation for July’s MLB draft. Talent evaluators project Clarke as a potential early-round pick in this year’s draft.
“It has been an absolute dream come true,” Clarke said. “I have been dreaming of being in this situation since I was 4 years old when I started playing baseball. It has been the absolute best. I couldn’t wish for anymore. It is a long process that I am excited to go through.”
Clarke is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-handed pitcher who throws a four-seam fastball, two-seamer, curveball, changeup and cutter from a three-quarters arm slot and low-effort delivery. He is athletic and has starter potential with notable upside.
Clarke relies heavily on his four-seam fastball that sits 93-95 mph and touches 97 mph. He occasionally mixes in his two-seamer due to its movement.
His curveball serves as a quality outpitch that features sharp and devastating breaking action. Clarke shows feel for his high-80s changeup and typically throws it low in the zone. He recently started throwing a cutter in hopes of adding another element to his repertoire.
Clarke has a solid feel and command for his pitches.
“I would say the biggest strength in my game right now is my ability to attack hitters with any pitch at any moment,” Clarke said. “I am just comfortable in throwing any of my pitches in any situation.”
Clarke hopes to pitch an entire season this spring while displaying consistency with all of his pitches. He also hopes to continue to develop his cutter into a reliable secondary pitch.
“I haven’t been on the mound in 18 months, and now I am a different person and pitcher,” Clarke said. “It is hard to relate to the time when I was healthy. Over the course of my senior year, I just want to prove to myself that I can be consistent and trust my stuff.”
Besides his status as a top draft prospect, Clarke also is a University of Alabama commit. He committed to the Tide right before his junior year in August 2019. The program’s coaching staff and atmosphere stood out to Clarke during the recruiting process.
“I am so happy with the choice I made,” Clarke said. “Coach (Brad) Bohannon and coach (Jason) Jackson have been great guys to me so far. Going through Tommy John, schools and coaches out there would abandon a kid because he went through surgery.
“But Alabama has been with me and by my side. They stuck with me and allowed me to sign. It has been awesome, and I know I made the right choice.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He has interviewed 253 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.