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Clemson Baseball 2007
Next week I will try to sit down with Kevin O’Sullivan and get his thoughts about the incoming freshmen and the red-shirted guys from this past year.
With that in mind lets take a very early look at what the Tigers could look like on the diamond in 2007.
Pitching-The starting pitching should be outstanding. Jason Berken was drafted high enough where it is almost assured he would not be back.
Stephen Faris was not drafted until the 12th round and has a decision but I think he will not be back also. Steve Richard did not have a great year and may opt to go pro instead of coming back.
Sean Clark will have some scholarship issues to work out with the staff but I would think he would be back to anchor the staff. P.J. Zocchi had brilliant stuff coming down the stretch and is almost assured to have a weekend spot going into the fall as well. David Kopp and Ryan Hinson worked mostly from the bullpen in 2006 but both have started and will be in contention to be a weekend guy. Both have excellent make up and bright futures.
I assume Daniel Moskos will be the closer after a fantastic year in that role in 2006. However, if the Tigers could find another closer Moskos may become a starter. He has the best stuff on staff and could be used in either role.
The rest of the bullpen could be very good again. Matt Vaughn looked like he had great stuff in his role this season. Stephen Clyne looked good throughout most of the year and is another middle relief guy. Alex Martin looked great early but faded as the year went on. His experience should help in his sophomore season.
William Bond and Chris Fidrych are coming off of arm surgeries but both are planning on being a factor next season. Fidrych looked like he was on his way to having a very good career before the injury. If he comes back healthy he could challenge for a starting spot. Chris Allen and Chris Howard may get a look in the fall.
The wildcards in the pitching are outfielders Brad Chalk and D.J. Mitchell.
Both have pitched and could be counted on if needed. However, the pitching depth may have them concentrate on their full-time duties in the outfield.
The Tigers signed eight pictures in the fall but two were drafted. I think Cobb Morris will go pro but I will check with O’Sullivan next week about the incoming talent.
The Infield-I would think that Marquez Smith was not drafted high enough to consider giving up his senior year. Assuming he stays the left side of the infield is set with Smith and Stan Widmann. Taylor Harbin returns at second and his offense and defense should be the key to the Tigers campaign. Andy D’Alessio was a tenth round pick and has a decision to make. If he does not come back, I think Alex Burg and a few newcomers will battle for the first baseman’s job in the fall. The Tigers signed five players listed as infielders in the fall.
Catchers-Adrian Cassanova is gone and the Tigers will have an interesting battle at catcher in the fall. Doug Hogan and Burg have some experience behind the plate. Clemson also inked Buddy Monroe from a Miami, FL high school. This will be another interesting battle.
Outfield-Two-thirds of the outfield should be set heading into the fall.
Chalk returns for his third year as a starter and Mitchell looked fantastic at times in right field. Both are excellent defensive outfielders. Left field could see Wilson Boyd, a scrappy speed guy that could remind Tiger fans of Casey Stone. Clemson did sign four guys listed as outfielders in the fall and Burg could be a factor there also.
Batting order-Leggett has some decisions to make here. Chalk has been fantastic as a number-two guy in the order because of his ability to bunt.
Mitchell has great speed but needs to learn to bunt better. If he can become more patient he can be an excellent lead off guy. Chalk and Mitchell could be 1-2 in the order but which will lead off is a good question.
Widmann handles the bat well and could also be a candidate to bat second. If Boyd takes over in left he could be a candidate eventually lead off also but could bat ninth and have speed at the top and bottom of the order. Harbin and Smith would be the run producers in the middle of the line up that could receive a big boast if D’Alessio returns. A lot will depend on the style of hitters that take over the vacated spots in left field, catcher, DH and maybe first base.
In summary, I think this will be one of the strongest staffs in the country once again in 2007. Moskos should be a fantastic closer once again. The key will be the decisions of some of the drafted Tigers and high school signees. Another key will be the impact of the newcomers. I would expect this team to look like other Leggett squads in that they appear to be fast on the base paths and the aggressive style of play should continue.
West Zone Update
You did not think I could get out of writing something about football did you? I find myself going by the West Zone often. Sometimes I eat lunch in my car there and just watch the construction. It is amazing how the building is progressing. I had no idea that it would fit so well and look so good. At night the inside lights up and the beauty is even more evident.
I like the flag poles across the top of the inside that will house the ACC flag but I and the huge flag pole on the outside of the building where I guess the American flag will rest. The new orange seats look great and add a lot to the beauty as well. Death Valley was loud before but now should be even louder. It was also beautiful before but now is even more beautiful.
I have been to the great venues in football and baseball but I know I would not trade Death valley and Doug Kingsmore Field for any in the country.
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