It’s not a sexy move by any means, but the Cubs claimed 23-year-old lefty Ian Clarkin off waivers from the White Sox Tuesday afternoon. He’s far from a lock to remain on the 40-man roster and hasn’t shown much to indicate a breakout, but Clarkin could be a lottery ticket.
Taken with the No. 33 overall pick by the Yankees out of Madison High School (San Diego) in 2013, Clarkin has spent most of his professional career at the high-A level. He missed all of 2015 with an elbow injury and was then limited by an oblique injury after being traded to the White Sox in 2017 as part of the David Robertson deal.
Though Clarkin hasn’t put up overwhelming numbers, particularly in light of his low level of competition, he’s still raw due to the injuries and overall lack of experience. But at the same time, he lacks truly electric stuff and is going to have to develop a changeup to set off his suite of breaking balls.
“Not being rotational is the biggest thing,” Clarkin told James Fegan of The Athletic (subscription required). “That’s caused me to do a lot of bad things. That’s caused me to get flat, that’s caused me to come around my changeup, come around my slider, come around my breaking ball. Bad habits, they show. It’s good to get this stuff go out, though. Good to get it out early in the season where it’s not late going into the offseason thinking about it. I still have time to fix all that.”
He’s worked primarily as a starter to this point, but his future is most likely in the bullpen and we know how the Cubs love to unearth lefty relievers. Again, this may turn into nothing and we’ll see Clarkin’s name on a subsequent blurb about some other team picking him up. But maybe this particular lottery ticket hits and the Cubs have a reliable option for the bullpen.
And even if baseball doesn’t work out for Clarkin, he’s got a great future as a Rickie Fowler lookalike.