James McArthur is the Phuture Phillies’ Readers’ #19 Pick.
James L. McArthur was born in New Braunfels, Texas. He is the son of Greg and Rebecca McArthur. He has three siblings, sister Miriam and brothers Jacob and Matthew. His grandfather Gregory played 4 seasons in the minors, advancing as high as Double-A as a pitcher in the Orioles organization (’78-82).
2013-2015: McArthur was a three-year letterman at New Braunfels High School. He logged 20.2 innings his sophomore year. He went 7-4 during his junior year with a 3.22 ERA in 41.1 innings. He was selected second-team all-district and 2014 Perfect Game Underclass All-American honorable mention. As a senior, he went 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA in 4.2 innings. He was selected first team all-district, 2015 Perfect Game First Team All-Region, and 2015 Perfect Game All-American honorable mention. He was Perfect Game’s 48th best player in the state.
2016: AS a freshman, McArthur appeared in 15 games making 12 starts. In 61.1 innings, he posted a 6-1 record with a 4.26 ERA striking out 61 batters. He was selected a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. He was also named to the First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll.
2017: As a sophomore. McArthur spent the season in the the weekend rotation. He made 12 starts, posted a 3-6 record, 4.73 ERA, and struck out 60 batters in 64.2 innings. He ranked ninth in the SEC in opponent batting average (.209). He earned his second placement on the SEC Spring Academic Honor Roll.
During the summer, he played for Falmouth in the Cape Cod League where he posted a 1-2 record and 3.10 ERA in 7 games, 29.0 innings. He walked 11 and struck out 19 batters.
2018: McArthur was the Sunday-starter for 16 games in his junior season. He posted a 6-1 record and 4.48 ERA in 66.1 innings. He walked 38 and struck out 58 batters. For the third time, he earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
McArthur was selected in the 12th round of the 2018 Amateur Draft by the Phillies
2018: McArthur’s debut season’s journey began with an inning in the Gulf Coast League and ended with four innings with Class-A Lakewood. In between, he threw 28.1 innings in 8 appearances, 5 starts in Low-A Williamsport. In all, McArthur combined to make 10 appearances and 6 starts. He threw 33.2 innings with a 0.54 ERA. He faced 122 batters and walked 11 (3.0 BB9, 9.0%) and struck out 35 (9.5 K9, 26.7%).
2019: McArthur posted so-so numbers as part of a piggy-back at Lakewood to start his second professional season. He went 9-6 with a 6.00 ERA in 54.0 innings. He faced 237 batters, walked 32 (5.3 BB9, 13.5%), and struck out 61 (10.2 K9, 25.7%). After his best start (5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 16 batters faced), McArthur was promoted to High-A Clearwater.
In Clearwater, McArthur made 7 starts and went 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA in 29.2 innings. He faced 126 batters, walked 16 (4.9 BB9, 12.7%), and struck out 30 (9.1 K9, 23.8%).
2021: McArthur spent the post-pandemic season in Double-A Reading except for a four-inning save for Jersey Shore in mid-September. For the season, he posted a combined 2-6 with a 4.25 ERA in 78.1 inings. He faced 335 batters, walked 24 (2.8 BB9, 7.2%), and struck out 83 (9.5 K9, 24.8%).
McArthur’s improved command got him a shot in the AFL. He made 5 starts and posted a 1-0 record with an inflated 8.10 ERA in 16.2 innings. He walked 7 and struck out 18 of the 82 batters he faced. His ERA was inflated by a 2-out outing where he gave up 9 runs on 8 hits, a walk, and 2 strike outs. In that outing, he was told to work on a secondary pitch ather than pitch normally. His numbers without that practice outing would have been 16.0 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 16 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.189 WHIP.
Prospects Live prepared a pre-season scouting report on McArthur.
Mechanics: Starts slightly offset in the wind-up. High leg kick to activate core and hips with an emphasized lean to stay back and create separation. Strong back leg and firm heel connection generate good power but a slight cross-fire and inconsistent trunk rotation appear to create inefficiencies in his energy transfer and some variances in release. High-3/4 arm-slot with a relatively low effort delivery that appears to help consistency but sap arm speed. Great functional mobility allows for good extension and helps with repeatability from both wind-up and stretch. Works at a quick pace.
Fastball: Usually sits 90-93 and tops 95. Was down to 87-90 at points in 2019 but a reported velo spike at the ATS in 2020 carried over to Instructs after some slight mechanical adjustments. Likes to command east-west but it looks like it gets better results when working north-south so a few extra ticks could be huge, especially from his release angle and extension. Solid offering that is generally commanded well and still has some room for improvement. Grade: 50
Curveball: Big breaker around 80-82 with good horizontal and vertical movement. High spin efficiency and 1/7 break tunnels very well with the fastball. Gets some awkward swings in the zone and back-door takes from lefties due to movement and spin though he does often leave it up in very hittable areas. When it’s commanded down, it has the makings of a legit wipeout secondary. Grade: 60
Slider: Hard and cutter like at 86-87. Not much velo separation from fastball and the movement is underwhelming but tight glove-side break from his release makes it at least worth mixing in. Developing consistency has been a clear priority but it’s still a fringe-average offering at the moment. Grade: 45
Changeup: 84-85 with a bit of fade. Practically never throws it; watched about 200 consecutive pitches before seeing one thrown. Release and spin axis actually does well to tunnel with the fastball if he ever wanted to use it but his feel for it is clearly stunted. Grade: 40
Control and Command: Does a very good job locating the FB all around the zone but his misses are generally over the plate in hittable areas. Commands the glove side well. Can control the CB and usually gets it where he wants. Feel for SL isn’t great, although reports indicate it is improving. Feel for CH is practically nonexistent. Control: 50 | Command: 45
Overall: If the fastball gains hold, McArthur has a good chance at becoming a reliable long reliever. Along with his curveball, he offers a pretty tough look against RHHs. Continuing to develop the slider and maybe finding a new changeup could give him an opportunity as a spot starter but his FB CB combo should be enough to find a role in the pen.
Role: 40 – Spot Starter or Long Reliever
McArthur’s improvement in 2021 and his production in the AFL (other than the 0.2 innings I described above) have moved him into the mix for a starter’s role. His placement on the 40-man roster was an indication that the Phillies were high on him. He very likely would have begun the season in Lehigh Valley’s rotation and been amomng the considerations for a callup if/when necessary depending on his progress there. The strike by the owners will undoubtedly hurt him if it keeps him from getting his work when the minor leagues start on schedule.