Former Cape Coral pitcher climbing up Tampa Bay Rays system

There’s a lot up in the air for the Tampa Bay Rays. For example: Where will the home games be played in the next few years? It may not even be in the United States.

But Cape Coral Seahawks fans may be wondering something else: When will Rays pitching staff include Shane McClanahan?

Former Seahawk McClanahan struck out seven batters in 6 and a third innings in his second start for the Rays-affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Things look good, but McClanahan is not focused on a few years ahead. He knows enough not to.

No. 37 McClanahan gets to hear his name called out at Charlotte Sports Park in Charlotte County while in uniform for the Stone Crabs, and it’s something he’s comfortable with — playing at home.

“It’s just another place to play baseball,” McClanahan said. “It’s great being close to home. But, ultimately, the endgame is the Trop (Tropicana Field) in St. Petersburg.”

Upon graduating from Cape Coral High School, McClanahan was drafted by the New York Mets, bu he turned them down in favor of college baseball, pitching for the USF Bulls.

“I felt like college would have done me a really good service,” McClanahan said. “I felt like I needed to mature and grow as a pitcher and as a person.”

Right away, McClanahan got one of those learning experiences in the form of Tommy John surgery, costing him his freshman year of college ball. But McClanahan counts that as anything but a loss.

“It’s all about what you learn from it and how you take it, so I told myself I’m going to come back healthy,” McClanahan said. “I’m going to come back stronger, and I’m going to use this to my advantage.”

So McClanahan used it as time to study while he recovered.

“I’m going to learn a lot about the game just sitting out and watching,” McClanahan said. “And that’s what I did. I think it really changed my career and my life.”

In his first, full year of professional baseball, McClanahan is quickly making his way up the Rays’ farm system. The big focus for the hard-throwing lefty is learning when to use his fastball.

“It’s all about where you put it and keep hitters off balance,” McClanahan said. “So every level you go to, they’re going to be able to hit a good fastball. So it’s all about what you have other than a fastball.”

But McClanahan is already grasping the most important concept.

“Enjoy the now. Don’t look too far into the future,” McClanahan said. “Enjoy where you’re at because baseball is a game, and it can be taken away from you at any minute. So just enjoy where you’re at now and enjoy the process.”

Reporter:Andrew Keesee
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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