SC Homerun King Ready for New Role

by - Correspondent -
Taylor Harbin committed to Clemson over South Carolina and Baylor.

As Clemson head baseball coach Jack Leggett looked out at one of his prized recruits playing in the Big League World series last Tuesday night in Easley, SC, he seemed hardly able to keep a smile off of his face. Taylor Harbin, a shortstop from Traveler’s Rest, SC, committed to further his baseball career at Clemson University, choosing Clemson over the likes of South Carolina and Baylor. Harbin broke the all-time South Carolina high school career homerun record with 52 while playing at Traveler’s Rest High School, a feat magnified by the fact that he broke the previous record in only his junior year.

“Taylor has all the tools to be a great player,” Leggett said. “He’s a good player with good tools in every area. He plays hard every game, no matter what uniform he’s wearing.”

Although the 5’10’, 180 pound Harbin may not fit the prototype of a power hitter, his sound fundamentals and pure swing made him a highly sought after prospect, especially among schools in the Palmetto state.

“Clemson contacted me really early. I love Clemson’s atmosphere, going to the football games, the fans support and just everything.” Harbin said. “I went down to South Carolina, and the big difference there was they were trying to talk you up, kiss your butt or whatever, and they’d say ‘you’ll definitely be starting,’ stuff like that, and that’s good for some kids, but you can’t believe any of that. You want someone who’s going to be up front with you and say that there will be no promises, that you’re going to have to work for your position and I think that’s the way it should be.”

And don’t try telling the South Carolina homerun king that the Clemson vs. South Carolina baseball rivalry is just any other game.

“That was a big deal in the recruiting process, too. Both schools bad-mouthed the other, and really South Carolina does that a lot more than Clemson. Clemson tries to give South Carolina their due, and say that ‘they have a good program and they’re tough to play,’” Harbin said. “But at South Carolina they just said things like ‘if you go to Clemson we’re just going to beat you every time we play you.’ That was one of the things that made me want to go to Clemson – I didn’t want to be part of that. I’m looking forward to playing in the rivalry. It’s for pride. It’s to decide who is the best team in the state.”

When asked about his lack of size for such a prolific power hitter, Harbin was unconcerned.

“Size really isn’t a big deal. That’s a big thing to a lot of scouts, they like to see big guys, Harbin said. “But if you hit the weights, are strong enough, have good bat-speed, and a good bat plane and position to the ball, then you can hit homeruns no matter what. It doesn’t matter about the size.
It’s how hard you work, and what you want to achieve.”

Harbin will have the opportunity to prove himself this year as he joins a Clemson squad losing a host of players to graduation and the draft, including shortstop Russell Tripplett. Leggett, although making no guarantees, thinks Harbin has a shot at grabbing some immediate playing time.

“I think the biggest adjustment he’ll have to make from high school to collegiate ball is the quality of pitching, and the speed of the game,”
Leggett said. “We’ve been recruiting him as long as the NCAA rules allow, and we recruited him to play. He absolutely has the talent to be a good college baseball player. He’ll certainly be in the mix.”

Harbin said that he doesn’t have any expectations of playing time, and that his only expectation is to work as hard as he can in practice.

“I’m just going to go into practice and work hard, and if I’ve earned playing time, I’ll get it,” Harbin said.

Harbin, who says he considers his range at his shortstop position to be his greatest attribute, often finds himself being pegged as an offensively oriented player only, a title he says is a mistake.

“I don’t have a bad or a great arm, I’d say it’s a little above average, so I have to use my range to get to the ball quickly. I think a lot of people see my homeruns and think I don’t even play in the field, but that’s an important part of my game,” Harbin said.

It would seem that despite Harbin’s success in high school, he will maintain his humble disposition entering fall practice at Clemson.

“I just do whatever I can for the team,” Harbin said in his typical relaxed southern accent. “I plan on giving 110 percent out there and earning whatever playing time I get.”

Leggett said he was very excited about Harbin’s future at Clemson, as he watched the star shortstop rip another base hit into the outfield in last Tuesday’s game.

“Taylor is truly a ball player,” Leggett said. “He’s got some great days ahead of him.”

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