Kade McClure has had the luxury to grow up with a father who played a professional sport. McClure’s father, Brian, was an NFL quarterback with the Buffalo Bills in 1987 and played collegiately at Bowling Green, where he finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1985.
Learning from his father about what it takes to play professionally has helped McClure exceed in baseball, as he chases his own dream of playing pro baseball one day.
“It’s nice to have someone to lean on that made it to the top in their respective sport,” McClure said. “It’s made it easier on myself to go through the college recruiting process and hear from the professional scouts to take away what’s worth it from the aspect he has on it all.”
McClure’s chance to play professionally could come as soon as this summer. Baseball America ranks the Louisville junior right-hander as the 42nd-best college prospect in June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.
“I’m just trying to take each game, game-by-game and each day, day-by-day and not think too much ahead,” said McClure about the draft.
A 6-foot-7, 235-pound right-handed pitcher, McClure is a workhorse on the mound. He has a four-pitch mix, featuring a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup.
McClure uses his height to his advantage, as he attacks hitters down in the strike zone with his low-90s fastball, generating a lot of ground ball outs.
“A lot of people take it for granted, but I think I’m athletic for my size,” said McClure, who went 12-0 with a 2.54 ERA in 15 games in 2016. “I make a lot of plays off the mound that a lot of people don’t think I’ll make because they look at me and they see 6-foot-7 and think I might be stiff.
“But, I’ve been making a lot of plays recently. I trust myself, and I trust my ability on the mound. I’m going to make a lot of plays that most guys my size won’t be making.”
With the college baseball season six weeks in, McClure isn’t worried about the draft attention and instead just hopes to continue to improve as the season moves along.
“I think I just need to continue to get stronger and keeping my composure,” he said. “I just need to work on keeping (my composure) under control and controlling what I can control. Let everything else fall into place.”
In seven starts as Louisville’s No. 2 starter, McClure is 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA, 41 strikeouts and 15 walks surrendered in 37 2/3 innings this spring.
The Cardinals are one of the top teams in college baseball with a 24-3 overall record and have aspirations of winning a national championship this season. McClure hopes he can do his part to help Louisville reach that goal.
“This year is more about giving my team the opportunity to win,” he said. “Pounding the ball in the zone and not walking guys. Just letting the (defense) make plays.”
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