Former Orioles right-hander and current MASN analyst Ben McDonald — whose nephew, Mac Sceroler, was taken by Baltimore in the Rule 5 Draft Dec. 10 — says Sceroler is excited for the opportunity with a new organization, and he believes Sceroler’s stuff compares favorably to Orioles pitchers who have come through the big leagues of late.

Sceroler, 25, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Most recently, he pitched at High-A Daytona in 2019, posting a 3.69 ERA in 117 innings. He struck out 127 batters — most in the Florida State League that year — and walked just 29.

Orioles pro scouting director Mike Snyder says the club was attracted to Sceroler’s four-pitch mix (fastball, curveball, slider and splitter). McDonald — who says Sceroler averages 93 mph with his fastball and backs it up with solid analytical numbers — believes his nephew has big-league stuff.

“We saw a lot of guys go through with the Orioles last year as far as the pitching staff goes, and I think we’re going to see that again this year,” McDonald said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 11. “There were a lot of guys that got some opportunities. When I compare his stuff to some of the Orioles I saw last year, I think it’s equal to and better than some of the stuff that I saw come through the Oriole organization last year. I like his stuff.”

The question is whether Sceroler can stick in the big leagues for an entire year. In order to stick, the player must stay in the big leagues all year with his new team — and on the active roster (not on the injured list) for at least 90 days. If a Rule 5 pick’s new club does not plan on keeping him throughout the year, the player is waived. If he clears waivers, he’s offered back to his old club.

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the minor-league season, and the Reds didn’t invite Sceroler to the alternate site or fall instructional league this year. Sceroler lives about 8 miles from McDonald in Louisiana, so he used McDonald’s home gym and indoor mound to stay in shape. He also threw to hitters once a week at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he pitched from 2015-2017.

McDonald said his nephew is excited to get a chance to stick with Baltimore.

“The Orioles are a land of opportunity right now, and it’s an opportunity for a lot of guys that maybe wouldn’t get shots in certain organizations but they’re getting shots with the Orioles,” McDonald said. “I think Mike Elias liked Mac enough to take him in the Rule 5 Draft. He thinks he can be a part of the big-league level or he wouldn’t have taken him at all. I said, ‘That’s what you’ve got to take out of this.’ So now it’s up to you to soak it all in and perform and do well.”

McDonald said his nephew was a late bloomer. Sceroler didn’t make the varsity squad at Denham Springs High School (La.) until his junior year and didn’t really pop until his senior year, at which point he decided to attend Southeastern Louisiana. He posted a 2.97 ERA with 229 strikeouts in 227 innings from 2015-2017 and was a two-time first-team All-Southland Conference pick.

After throwing 239 innings in the Reds organization from 2017-2019, Sceroler is excited to continue his development with the Orioles in spring training.

“He’s 6-foot-4, starting to fill out his body a little bit. He’s always been a strike-thrower. He commands three or four pitches really good in the strike zone, so he is a pitcher right now,” McDonald said. “I expect as he gets bigger and stronger, you’re going to see that velo tick up a little bit. Sig Mejdal, Mike Elias, they all came from Houston. They are right at the top when it comes to the analytical stuff. So I think Mac is excited also to get into some analytical stuff and being able to improve the stuff he has.”

So much is still unclear about the 2021 season, from when spring training will start to how many regular-season games will be played and how big rosters will be. But whenever it all gets going, Sceroler will have a chance to create a family legacy in Baltimore.

“My mom sent me a picture. She went and grabbed one of my old Oriole jackets that I used to pitch in way back in the mid-’90s and she put it on [Dec. 10] and took a picture,” McDonald said. “So the family’s super excited. They’re grabbing all the old Oriole gear, they’re putting it on. So I’m happy for Mac. I’m happy he’s going to get a new start with a wonderful organization. I bleed black and orange, so I’m so happy for him and I’m happy for his chance with the Orioles.”

For more from McDonald, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credits: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles and Aldrin Capulong

Luke Jackson

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