Christian MacLeod redshirted his first season at Mississippi State with pneumonia in 2019. However, the left-handed pitcher didn’t show any signs of rust in his return to the mound last year.
MacLeod struck out 11 batters while surrendering one hit and one walk in five innings in his collegiate debut against Wright State last spring. He carried that momentum into his final three starts of the pandemic-shortened season. He posted a minuscule 0.86 ERA with 35 strikeouts and six walks allowed in 21 innings in 2020.
This spring, MacLeod hopes to build off his impressive start and continue his development on the mound. It’s an important year for the third-year pitcher who professional scouts consider as one of the top pitchers in July’s MLB draft class and a potential early-round selection.
“It has been cool and exciting,” MacLeod said. “You dream of being a big leaguer as a kid and everything. Talking to some teams has been cool. I’m just really focused on going out there with my team and enjoying it.
MacLeod is a 6-foot-4, 230-pound left-hander who throws a fastball, curveball and changeup from an over-the-top arm slot. He hides the ball well throughout his delivery, creating some deception for opposing batters.
His fastball only sits in the low-90s. But it is an effective offering due to MacLeod’s ability to locate it in all quadrants of the strike zone.
MacLeod’s secondary pitches are quality pitches and tunnel well off his fastball. His curveball is an above-average offering that serves as his outpitch. The curveball features quality depth and a high spin rate. His changeup features some sinking action.
MacLeod displayed poise on the mound and showed notable control of his pitches last season. He hopes to carry those two traits over into this season.
“The key for me this year will be throwing strikes,” MacLeod said. “I feel like I have three quality pitches. If I can mix up speeds, throw my certain pitches in certain counts and be consistent throwing strikes, I think I will be fine.”
This spring will mark MacLeod’s first full year as a starting pitcher at the collegiate level. He has yet to pitch against Southeastern Conference teams but is eager for that opportunity to “pitch against those big teams” this spring.
Mississippi State is one of the top teams in college baseball this season, most notably due to its starting pitching. Besides MacLeod, Mississippi State’s starting rotation features right-handers Eric Cerantola and Will Bednar, who also are potential early-round picks in July’s draft.
The starting staff will allow Mississippi State to compete in an extremely talented SEC. It also should help them make a deep run in postseason play.
Mississippi State has advanced to the College World Series in each of the last two postseasons. The Bulldogs are in search of their first-ever national championship.
“We want to win a national championship,” MacLeod said. “We want to make that trip to Omaha. That’s really our main goal is doing everything we can to be a good team and win a national championship.”
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for six years. He’s 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’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.