JC Cloney was able to return to the Arizona Wildcats for his senior season this year, and that paid off in the form of a ninth round draft selection by the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
This is the first time the Royals have selected an Arizona player in the draft since Kevin Long went in the 31st round in 1989.
Cloney likely ended up in the first ten rounds as kind of a value pick, as teams only have a set amount of money they can spend to sign all these players. It’s likely that the Royals will be able to land Cloney for less than the $141,900 slot value he’s been assigned, which would free up some money for them to give to other draftees.
The thing that stands out about Cloney is how he was able to put up spectacular numbers over his two years in Tucson without having overpowering stuff. His fastball sits low-to-mid 80s at best, but the movement he has as well as the command of all his offspeed pitches allowed him to dominate Pac-12 hitting, and even through the College World Series, throwing a shutout in the first game of the Championship Series against Coastal Carolina.
In 2017, Cloney posted a 3.11 ERA, slightly up from the 2.45 number he had as a junior. Part of that has to do with how the lefty’s conference season went this year, missing a couple of starts and struggling with command in others.
Overall though, he was the reason Arizona was able to have success the past two years. He went from Saturday starter to Friday starter seamlessly, and seemed to set the table exactly how you would want your ace to do so throughout the first part of the season.
Good luck to JC as he moves forward with his career. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of role he’ll be able to play.