In 2015, Clase signed with the Padres (see Transactions below).
In 2019, Baseball America rated Clase as the 25th-best prospect in the Rangers organization.
After being dealt to the Indians, Emmanuel was at #15 in their farm system in the spring of 2020, before moving up to #14 a year later, early in 2021.
2019 Rookie Season: Trading away a franchise icon in Corey Kluber was a risk for the Indians, but there’s one obvious tool they got back in Clase’s one-of-a-kind, triple-digit cutter. No pitcher who threw at least 200 cutters in a season since 2008 (the start of modern pitch tracking) came within 3 mph of Clase’s average this year. And, as MLB.com’s Mandy Bell notes, Cleveland’s entire pitching staff combined for just 12 pitches of 98+ mph in 2019 (all of them by starters Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger). (Matt Kelly - MLB.com - Dec. 30, 2019)
May 1-Oct 1, 2020: Clase was placed on the restricted list.
The Indians struggled to contain their excitement when they first acquired reliever Emmanuel Clase, the centerpiece in the trade that shipped Corey Kluber to Texas. But now, the club and the 21-year-old have a bit of a hurdle to overcome.
Clase received an 80-game suspension after testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball announced. The suspension does not begin until the 2020 season is officially underway.
“We were disappointed to learn of today’s suspension of Emmanuel Clase for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” the Indians said in a brief statement. “We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing drugs from our game. We have been in contact with Emmanuel, and we will welcome him back after the discipline has been served. Per the protocol outlined by Major League Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement, we will not comment further on the circumstances surrounding this announcement." (M Bell - MLB.com - May 1, 2020)
February 2015: Clase signed with the Padres for $125,000, out of the D.R., via scouts Chris Kemp and Emengildo Diaz. He was 18 years old.
April 7, 2018: The Rangers traded C Brett Nicholas to the Padres for Clase. At the time, Clase appeared to be a late-blooming Dominican prospect yet to pitch in full-season ball who topped out at 95 mph. Now, Clase is hitting triple digits. (July, 2019)
- Dec 15, 2019: The Indians traded Corey Kluber and cash considerations to the Rangers; acquiring outfielder Delino DeShields and righthanded reliever Emmanuel Clase.
|Birth City:||Rio San Juan, D.R.|
|Draft:||2015 - Padres - Free agent - Out of D.R.|
Clase has a 94-101 mph FASTBALL with above-average movement and natural cutter action. That means he misses barrels, but he also misses the strike zone, though not a problem too often as he stays around the strike zone. He has a SLIDER with good two-plane depth, and has gained more more consistency with it as he improved his arm speed when throwing it, and started locating it better.
Emmanuel is ready to pitch high-leverage innings. (Teddy Cahill - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
“When you see the ball out of his hand, it’s exciting. He has special stuff,” said pitching coach Carl Willis.
Clase's fastball velo has climbed regularly since becoming a pro, topping triple digits last season. But what makes it unique is crazy cutting and riding action that makes it almost impossible for hitters to barrel. He can overpower hitters with his slider with depth at times, though it sometimes flattens out into a slurve.
Clase generates his power arsenal with arm speed rather than effort in his delivery, though the movement on his fastball can make it difficult to harness at times. After averaging 4.2 walks per nine innings in three seasons in San Diego's system, he sliced that rate to 2.0 in two years with Texas. If he can make similar strides with his command, he could be a closer.
Emmanuel has the stuff to be a high-leverage reliever.
"He has electric stuff,” Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti said before 2020 spring training. "He’s been up to 102 mph and averaged about 100 with his fastball, and he has a cutter that is hard to center up. He complements that with an above-average slider.
"We feel he’ll go into our bullpen and be a weapon for us. "There are some 22-year-old relievers in the majors having success, but not many average 100 mph with their fastball,” Antonetti said. "We think Clase will fit in the back of our bullpen and provide a different look. We’ve got a diverse group able to attack hitters in a number of ways.” (Jim Ingraham - Baseball America - Spring, 2020)
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 78.8% of the time and his Slider 21.2% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 99.4 mph and Slider 90.6 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: Did not pitch.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that Clase is similar to another hard-throwing reliever in the franchise's past, Neftali Feliz, in that they both generate elite velocity with very little effort. Clase also has good command of his slider, which was Feliz's primary off-speed pitch. (July 2019)
Emmanuel has the stuff to become a late-innings reliever.
Dec 30, 2019: Emmanuel Clase key stat: 99.2 mph average cutter velocity.
June 19, 2021: Imagine a closer who dominates with cutters like Kenley Jansen but also has the triple-digit velocity of Aroldis Chapman. Well, that gives you Emmanuel Clase.
Clase is showing everyone why Cleveland traded Corey Kluber to get him. The 23-year-old right-hander is overpowering hitters in his debut season with the Indians, with 11 saves, a 0.94 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 28.2 innings over 30 appearances. He didn't give up an earned run in his first 15 appearances, and he's only allowed one in his past 14. Clase gives a team that already had James Karinchak TWO relief aces.
Clase's stuff is unique in MLB right now. This one thing alone makes him worth watching: He's throwing the hardest cutter in pitch-tracking history.
Here's the highest average cutter velocity for a season since pitch tracking began in 2008:
Emmanuel Clase, 2021: 100.0 mph
Emmanuel Clase, 2019: 99.2 mph
Dellin Betances, 2016: 98.5 mph
Jonathan Broxton, 2009: 98.0 mph
Carlos Estévez, 2016: 97.4 mph
And here are the top 10 fastest cutters on record since pitch tracking began:
101.7 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/2/2021 101.7 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 4/25/2021
101.5 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 6/5/2021 101.5 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/11/2021
101.5 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 4/15/2021 101.4 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/24/2021
101.4 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/24/2021 101.4 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/11/2021
101.4 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 9/10/2019 101.4 mph—Dellin Betances, 6/19/2016
And here are the most 100-plus mph cutters thrown since pitch tracking began:
Emmanuel Clase—250 Dellin Betances—6 Jonathan Broxton—2
Yordano Ventura—2 Carlos Estévez—2 Kevin Jepsen—2
Of the 265 cutters thrown in triple digits in 13 years of pitch tracking, Clase has thrown 94 percent of them. He's thrown 52 of the 54 cutters tracked at 101-plus mph. Those numbers are only going to grow, because no one else is throwing triple-digit cutters.
The velocity is eye-popping by itself. But raw velo isn't enough in the big leagues. You still need the results: Missed bats and strikeouts. Clase gets those. He leads MLB relievers in both strikeouts (22) and swings and misses (57) on cutters this season.
Watch his cutter in action, and it passes the eye test right away. The pitch is nasty. One hundred mph is hard enough to hit when it's straight. Clase's cutter is a combination of velocity and movement direction that hitters simply do not see anywhere else, and that adds an extra layer of difficulty in trying to hit it. He throws it 75 percent of the time, but it doesn't matter. It's a prime example of "you know it's coming and you still can't hit it."
Clase has made improvements in 2021, too. He's pairing his cutter more effectively with his low-90s slider, which has a much-improved swing-and-miss rate from 2019 to 2021 (40.4 percent, up from 27.6) and more than triple the strikeouts (10 slider punch-outs in 2021, three in 2019). He's also using his cutter to pound the low, glove-side region of the strike zone better than he did in 2019, when he left a lot more of them up and in the middle of the zone.
That's helping Clase suppress opposing hitters' quality of contact a lot better than he did in his first MLB season. Clase is barely allowing hitters to barrel the ball (1.3 percent barrel rate, which is better than 99 percent of the league), and his expected batting average against (.204) and expected slugging percentage against (.265) are both excellent. When opponents aren't whiffing against his cutters, they're putting the ball on the ground nearly three-quarters of the time. Clase is running the highest ground-ball rate in the league.
Highest groundball rate in 2021 of the 234 pitchers with 75+ batted balls allowed:
Emmanuel Clase (CLE): 73.1% Clay Holmes (PIT): 70.1% Tyler Rogers (SF): 68.5%
Jonathan Loaisiga (NYY): 65.7% Matt Peacock (ARI): 61.7%
Here are the top seven fastest cutter velocities on swinging strikes since pitch tracking began in 2008:
101.5 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 4/15/2021 101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 6/14/2021
101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/24/2021 101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/24/2021
101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/11/2021 101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/11/2021
101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 4/4/2021
And here are the top five fastest cutters thrown for strikeouts since pitch tracking began:
101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/24/2021 101.2 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/6/2021
101.0 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 6/8/2021 100.9 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 5/22/2021
100.9 mph—Emmanuel Clase, 4/18/2021
This list goes on, too, with a lot more "Clases." Before 2021, there were some Jonathan Broxtons and Carlos Estévezes and Dellin Betanceses and Kenley Jansens and Yordano Venturas sprinkled in. But Clase is bringing too much fire in 2021.
Clase has notched 42 of the 47 whiffs on 100-plus mph cutters in the pitch-tracking era. No one else has more than one. He's also recorded 15 of the 19 strikeouts on 100-plus mph cutters in the pitch-tracking era. No one else has more than one.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, because when Clase isn't in triple digits with his cutter, he's in the upper 90s, at a level of consistency no pitcher has ever replicated. The 100 mph threshold is the one that fans want to see in flames on the stadium radar gun. But the point is, his relentless attacking with a cutting fastball at extreme velocity makes him one of a kind.
Pitchers in 2021 are at their nastiest ever, but you still can't see anyone else throwing what Clase throws. (D Adler - MLB.com - June 20, 2021)
- 2021 Season: Clase’s 24 saves more than doubled his nearest rookie competitor and he went 13-for-15 in save opportunities with an 0.82 ERA in the second half, a stretch that included 13 successful save conversions in a row. For the year, the closer finished with a 1.29 ERA, a .195 BAA and a 0.96 WHIP in 71 games.
Oct 12, 2021: Clase was named to the MLB Pipelines' All-Rookie First Team in the 2021 season. His 24 saves were the most for a rookie since Jim Henderson racked up 28 for the Brewers back in 2013.
- Feb. 27, 2020: Clase was expected to miss 8 to 12 weeks with an upper back strain.