Trevor McDonald, RHP
BATS: R / THROWS: R
ACQUIRED: Drafted 2019, 11th Round
LAST LEVEL: High-A
VOLATILITY: Very High
GiantFutures 2023 Ranks: #21 Overall, #4 Reliever
2022 Performance: Trevor McDonald finally got a full season under his belt, and it was a very good season indeed. McDonald started the season in San Jose working as a piggyback starter, and worked his way into actual starts in July. McDonald had a 2.39 ERA in San Jose, with 102 strikeouts to 40 walks in 90.1 innings. McDonald then got a cameo appearance at the end of the season in High-A Eugene, going back to a piggyback starting role for two games, where he had a 1.64 ERA with 18 strikeouts to two walks in 11.0 innings.
McDonald’s year would’ve been even better except for one bad month, when he had a 5.51 ERA, but he also began to lose his control late in the season, again in his first full season. McDonald also struggled a bit more against left-handed hitters, to the tune of a .696 OPS versus a .563 OPS against right-handers.
Strengths and Weaknesses: McDonald looks like a different pitcher than the high schooler the Giants paid an extra bonus to get in the 2019 draft. His fastball has bumped up a couple of ticks to sit in the mid-90’s and get higher, but with good sinking movement. While his curveball was his best secondary pitch coming out of school, he now throws a slider in the mid-80’s that he can turn up the velocity on to make more into a cutter. He still has the curve and a changeup, but both are more average pitches.
He’s developed a good arsenal and gets outs with the pitches he has, though none of them are better than above-average. There’s also concerns about his durability long-term being able to handle a starter’s workload, as he’s had a slow development, thanks to COVID costing him his 2020 season, and then a COVID diagnosis affecting his 2021 season.
2023 Outlook: McDonald’s likely to head back to Eugene, but the role he’ll be in will be interesting. The Giants have clearly shown interest in working with him as a starter, as circumstances have left him with a slow development. McDonald will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in the fall.
Future Profile: Here’s the big question for McDonald. Can he stick as a starter? The truth is, he probably could, but there’s a clock hanging over his development. If the Giants don’t turn him into a reliever to speed up his development, there’ll be a risk that another team will after taking him in the Rule 5. However, despite his fastball and slider being his best pitch, they may not be good enough to be a power reliever. But McDonald’s future might be as a multi-inning reliever where he can use his more well-rounded arsenal.