|Thursday, February 11, 2016, 9:47 AM- -|
We are eight days away from opening the Monte Lee era in Clemson baseball, but I warn fans not to expect too much too soon. There is a reason there was a change at the top, and Lee is here to fix what is broken.
When Bill Wilhelm took over Clemson's program in 1957, he won the ACC the first two seasons and his first two teams made it to the College World Series. When Jack Leggett took over for Wilhelm in 1994, he inherited one of the nation's best baseball programs. Leggett's first two teams won the ACC twice and made it to the College World Series once.
Lee doesn't have the luxury of stepping into a loaded program at his point. There is rebuilding to do, but I am excited about his program and the energy he has provided for the future.
The cupboard is not completely bare. Behind the plate, Clemson has perhaps the nation's top catcher in Chris Okey. The junior hit .315 with 16 doubles, 12 homers, and 57 RBIs in 61 games last season.
At shortstop Eli White returns after a very good sophomore season where he hit .297 with 44 runs and 11 steals. Weston Wilson moves from third base to second base to help with his defense, but his power bat produced five home runs and 26 RBIs a season ago. Taking Wilson's third base spot is Adam Renwick, who impressed in the fall.
Lee said first base is his biggest concern. Reed Rohlman, Glenn Batson, Chris Williams and Drew Wharton were the early candidates. All four players can play other positions if they don't win the starting spot at first. Rohlman was a third-team All-American after hitting .356 as a freshman. He also led the team in hits, doubles, and RBIs. Look for Rohlman at first, left field or DH this season with his bat in the middle of the lineup. Wharton showed promise as a freshman last season and could play left or first. Williams came in as a catcher candidate if first base doesn't work out, but Robert Jolly may be the backup catcher when he doesn't DH. The point is Lee has options at first base.Rebuilding Project
Speaking of position moves, Chase Pinder moves from second base to centerfield after hitting .256 last season, but his shoulder injury was a concern.
Clemson gets a boost from a true freshman who arrived in January. Seth Beer was rated number two in the country according to one website. He can play first base or a corner outfield spot in making the jump from high school to college.
The Tigers will need to have major production on offense this season because the biggest question mark comes from the pitching staff. Experience is a huge factor as Clemson has only eight wins returning from last season.
Clate Schmidt is the most experienced pitcher, but the right-hander is coming off of a bigger battle as he is cancer free from his bout with lymphoma. Other starting candidates include left handlers Charlie Barnes and true freshman Jake Higginbotham. Brooks Crawford and Alex Eubanks are two other freshmen that are competing for starting positions.
Most programs are unsure of the roles of their pitching staffs this time of year, but the Tigers haven't been this inexperienced in recent years and question marks remain throughout each role.
One thing that hasn't changed is the difficult schedule. Clemson faces second-ranked Louisville, sixth-ranked Miami, tenth-ranked NC State, 17th-ranked South Carolina and 20th-ranked Florida State. Clemson is picked to finish fifth in the ACC's Atlantic Division in this rebuilding year, but at least, there is new energy in the program with Lee taking over.
The Brad Hughes All-State Insurance Agency
|src="https://www.tigernet.com/img/ads/plyler/allstate_logo.gif" border=0> border=0>|
The prayer list is a medium for our community to recognize those that are in need. If you would like to add someone to the list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know when it is appropriate to remove a person off the list.
Those who need our prayers include: Jo Ann Bachman, Kenneth Bryant, Pruitt Martin, Got Igers and his family, David Rowland, Leonard, Gillespie and his family, Jim S., Daniel Rosborough, the Huffman family, Nancy Winkler, John Reeve, Vinnie Brock, Kaitlyn L., Susan Miller, Joyce Harley, Steve Proveaux, Jeffrey Greene, the Hutto family, Sherl Drawdy, Caleb Kennedy, Teresa O'Connor, Matt Jacobs, Perrin Seigler, Candee Massee, Lindsey Jordan, Sam Catoe, Tyler Felch, the Nicolopulos family, "the Jacksonville, FL guys," Kim Sims, the Coyle family, Ryleigh Tedder, Steve Lee, Kelly Trakas, Jimmy Moore, the Thomas V. family, Emary Claire Young, Kitty Bowers, Julie Locke, the Scheider family, Lauren Kittles' family, Frank Gentry, Stacey McKeown, Dale Childs, Larry Lentz, Jr., Carl Sharperson, Scott Hannon, William Perry, Tyler Swaney, Lillian, Mark Feit, David Frame, the family of Matthew M. Watson, the Dowis family, Alan Putnam, the Olivers, Lee Tate, Ronnie Abrams, Eddie Greene, the Jackson family, Bill Vader, Jim Taylor, Tina DeWitt, Rock Horne, Bobby Wayne Thomas, Emma and Danielle Carothers, Robert Ditty, Mr. and Mrs. Murray Smith, Millie Heatley, Lynn Martin and family, Michael Pinson, Jake David family, Angie Crowley, Ira, Poly Wells, Dr. Muriel Bishop, Jack Cunningham, Emily Jefford Meister, Aaron Clackum, Pat James, Cortney Moore, William Moore, Angelia and Savannah Anderson, Scott Johns, Frank Carroll, Brandon Thompson, Alvin Sammons, Georgine McAlhaney, Glen Davis, Mike Price, Aaron Knight, Danielle Johnston and family, Nicholas Abrams, Lana Kuykendall, Gary, Gary G., William Huggins, Jim Bennett, Chantz Fowler, Ethel McElveen, Michele Gurganus, William Gentry, Lewis Usher and Tanya Sanders, Shon Cooper, Nick Collins, Amanda Peake, Chip Turner, Nick Collins, Allen Steen, the Sturkey family, the Lance family, Nick Chrisley's family, Allison Williams, Lt. Kyle Walker, Summer and Joel Johnson, Nicole O'Donnell, James O. Johnson, Joy Pruett and family, Bill Schmidt, Jack Bailey, Gardner Family, Charles Turner, Kathy Bartholomew, Ray Sanders, David and Robin Blocker, J.R. Ray, Kenneth Kowe, Lauren Sielicki, Jenna Phipps, Mark Lawrence, Jonathan and Jacki Sullins, Peter Laboy, Kat and Carlisle Jones, Elizabeth Galloway and family, Anita McDonald, Willard Harryman, Liz Surratt, Molly Senn, Jackie Shearer, Richard Sellers, Tim Drisdelle, Susan and Mike Brown, Julie Goodman Marshall, Willard and Dorothy Harryman, Justin Jernigan, Jack Cunningham, Mia Daughtery, Tee Senn, Skylar, Joseph Thomas, Mrs. Nelis, Sean Rowell, George Parker, Levon Kirkland and family, Catherine Sewell, Randy Davenport, David Vaughn, Keith Dalton, B.T., Bill Hilbig, Rita Elrod Hammond and family, Jim McKeller, Tony Alewine, Sharon Storck, Dick Baird, Richard Bagnal, Dustin and Brittany Peurifoy, Jan Allan, Josh Cox, Gregg and Sylvia Lewis, Travis Hamrick, Kaki Harmon, Jammie McKellar and babies, Karen Edwards, Jackson Lindsey, Cathy Hutson Gregg, Kristin Heckman, Jennifer Johnson, Jay Johnson, Lyndsie Johnson, Emily Davis, Hayes Davis, Judy Towe, Johnny Towe, Ken Brown, Elaine Brown, Rhonda Thompson, Tim Davis, Jacob Greinke, Jack Finley, Richard and Clara Crawford, Zach and Griffin Johnson, Israel, Frankie Allen, Bobby Allen, the Wessinger family, the Parsons family, Todd Price and family, Rosemary A Flynn, Dr. Mickey Shealy family, Mr. Gillespie, Bobbi Nicholson, Dr. Matt Stower, Tyler Kemmerlin, Parks Hutto, Patrick Destefano, Robert Summerville, Michelle Richey, Julie Moore, Ashley Fitch, Drew Moyer, Kevin Anderson, Lyn Price, John Robert Smith, Allison Williams, Nicholas Wickiser, Lena Wright, Elizabeth Bruner, Bobbi Simpson, Hammond Family, Elaine G. Duvall, Addison Grace, Bennie Cunningham, Kevin Orcutt, Alan Finley, Keith Wells, Steve Byrd, Jessica Hernandez, Wayne Mullins, Rita Alexander, Tony Osterman, family and friends of Gary Cooper, Tonya Gibson, Mary Carmen Harman, Derk Denton, Tim Vacek, Mike Vacek, Jerry Brown, Phil Compton, Alma Jean Sullivan, Lindsey Motley, and our great country and the men and women in uniform that protect and serve it every day, plus their families.