The sturdy reliever—filled out and closer to 185 pounds than his listed 150—was acquired by the Rangers in early May to complete the trade that sent catcher Brett Nicholas to the Padres. Clase has spent time in the rotation and the ‘pen, but he’s squarely a relief prospect right now.
I saw Clase’s last start as a Padres prospect, a May viewing in Arizona Extended Spring Training. His carry tool is arm-strength, as a heavy fastball angled down at hitters at 96-to-98 mph from an over-top slot. He commanded his fastball well despite some effort throughout the delivery, spotting to both sides of the plate with impressive ability to hit gloveside targets. He pairs the plus fastball with an 85-to-87 mph slider that flashes swing-and-miss when he keeps it down in the zone.
I see the ceiling as a future middle relief option, able to face mostly same-side hitters in a righty specialist role. The slider can miss bats against right-handed hitters, but I didn’t see a bat-misser against left-handed bats as it lacked the sharpness and feel to backdoor. He throws hard enough he still can match up against lefties with his fastball, though developing even a wrinkle third pitch to work against them would be in Clase’s best interest moving forward. A future big league reliever that’s numerous years away doesn’t sound exciting, but this was a savvy pickup by the Rangers for the low cost of a third catcher.