2010 Clemson Baseball Season Preview

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2009 RECORD: 44-22 (19-11 in ACC), 31-9 at Home, 10-11 Road

COACH: Jack Leggett (724- 331-1) in 17 years at Clemson, 34 Regionals, 12 CWS appearances

Lettermen Returning: 20, Lost: 13

"I'm extremely excited about the prospects for the 2010 season," said Head Coach Jack Leggett, "We have 20 returning lettermen and many freshmen who will make a contribution to our success in 2010."

"Offensively, we return all our starters with the exception of first-baseman Ben Paulsen," continued Leggett. "And with all our veterans a year older, I expect them to have great seasons and give us the ability to put pressure on opposing pitching staffs. It has also created stability in the field defensively."

"The pitching staff is in good hands under Coach Pepicelli," stated Leggett. "His knowledge of fundamentals, communication skills, and work-ethic are qualities that drew me to him. I have every bit of confidence that Coach Pepicelli will be able to assist in taking our pitchers to the next level."

"We took some strides from where we were the year before. It was nice to get back to the Super Regional. We want to get to Omaha and play for the national championship. That's our goal from day one. This team is focused. They got a taste of it last year, so I'm excited about their work ethic, motivation and their attitude has been great. They were enthused about getting out on the field today. I think we've got something good ahead of us."

The 2010 Schedule features 35 home games, 17 of 21 to start are at home, and 27 games against teams that made the NCAA Tournament. Going over the first part, I think we should have no losses going into the SC series. The Tigers will also get Florida State and North Carolina at home and miss Miami altogether in the ACC rotation. The season starts Friday at 4pm at Tiger Field against Miami (OH).

Radio Schedule

CUAD outlook

The new Chapman Grandstand construction in Left Field brings another 1000 seat capacity to Tiger Field beginning this season: 500 will be for students, 500 for ticket holders. The total capacity is listed at 6217, so they need to work on adding 100 more for perfection. JackLeggett.com has pictures and other walkthroughs of the stadium construction.

Preseason rankings - BA- 15, Collegiate Baseball - 16, USA Today/ESPN - 15 while ACC writers picked Clemson to finish 2nd in the Atlantic behind FSU.

Key Returning Players
Player BA  HR   RBI    SB
LF Jeff Schaus .320 13 50 9
RF/1B/DH  Kyle Parker  .255 12 52 6
2B Mike Freeman .328 4 44 11
SS Brad Miller .273 3 36 16
DH Chris Epps .297 4 27 9
CF Addison Johnson .217 2 14 9
C John Nester .304 5 33 1
3B Jason Stolz .315 1 21 7
CF Wilson Boyd .341 3 46 5

 

Though the starter at 1B will likely be incoming freshman Richie Shaffer from Charlotte, Parker and Lamb could be moved around to First. Johnson should not start in CF, that will be Boyd, even though Johnson is the better defensive player. Its a good lineup, but down on big power numbers. As you look down through the lineup, keep in mind that .300 BA in college ball is not that impressive. I would say .330-.350 is good, with anything near .400 being outstanding; basically 30-50 points higher than what I'd say is good in MLB.

How is your outlook at first base?

Leggett: "The guys we have competing there now - Richie Shaffer from Charlotte, a freshman, a very strong right-handed hitter. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Baker. He's a good athlete. He's a guy who's definitely competing over there. I see him playing. Will Lamb can play first, outfield and will pitch for us some. I see him competing. We're working him in. Will is a good athlete, too. Kyle could move back and forth. John Hinson could move back and forth. If I had to think about starting a game today it would be between Shaffer and Will. I think it's going to be tough to keep Shaffer out of the mix of things. He's got good power. He's a good athlete. He's… really going to be a good player. Keep your eyes on him."

John Nester emerged from a platoon with Phil Pohl but could stand to work on his defensive skills, hopefully those improvements have happened in the long offseason.

Chris Epps came alive as the leadoff hitter in ACC play, which should continue to start this season. Freeman will probably follow at #2 in the order, with some combo of Schaus, Parker, and Boyd at 3/4/5. That much I believe is set. The rest would be Nester 6, Miller (who spent the summer on Team USA) at 7 and Stolz 8 or 9. Depending on who gets the 1B job, or plays DH on any given day, I could see 6-9 being jumbled up quite a bit early on this year. Shaffer would likely slide into a 6-8 role, while Lamb would probably bat a spot higher if hes not pitching.

As usual, Jack will steal, bunt and scratch for runs like Augie garrido (Texas) instead of simply letting players hit and scoring in bunches with the aluminum in hand. Its a definite NL-like philosophy that many folks don't agree with, particularly for the offensive game of college baseball. I can't say that I love it, but Jack does manage to win with it and always has. I'm reminded of the Earl Weaver saying, "If you play for one run, that's all you're going to get," when I see Leggett's teams struggle to score enough to win though. My biggest complaint with Leggett has been the way he handles pitchers, and that he takes them out far too early.

As for the starting staff, it looks like Harman, Weismann, and a prayer. Harman was pretty good down the stretch last year. No one else comes back with significant starting innings beyond Sarratt. This I believe will be where the loss of Bunn hurts. Tomas Cruz projects to be the closer, which I thought he should've been last year when Vaughn struggled. If he can flourish, he'll fix a major sore spot from last season, as we blew late leads against FSU, UNC, GT and UGA. Those wins make the difference between hosting a Super Regional, and going on the road.

The 3-5 spots in the rotation could go to youngters Kevin Brady (1.69 ERA in 10 2/3 inn before injury), Soph. David Haselden (4.58 ERA in 17.2 innings with 16 Ks) or 6'5" Soph. lefty Will Lamb. Will Lamb and Brady were named the top prospects of the Coastal Plain and Cal Ripken summer leagues by Baseball America. Lamb will also move around and play positions. Clemson brought in 6 freshman recruits, 5 are righties. They're young and need experience to heavily contribute for us in 2010. I would expect Sarratt to be a midweek or spot starter.

Pos. Player  W-L ERA IP K BB SV
LHP Casey Harman 7-3     3.95      86.2    89    16 1
RHP Scott Weismann         3-1 1.23 36.2 28 15 1
LHP Will Lamb 0-0 2.45 22 15 8 1
Closer Tomas Cruz 2-3 3.33 46 39 16 4
RHP Justin Sarratt 3-2 5.10 42.1 24 9 1

 Obviously you return a lot on offense, but what do you think about what you have available in your pitching rotation?

"We lost some good arms, some experience, some kids who stepped up and did some good things for us on the mound. But I really like our pitching coach. They're responding extremely well to him. I expect good things out of them. You're only as good as we can perform. We just have to get them ready to go, get the most out of each and every one of them. We're still learning what their strengths and weaknesses are. There's not an established 1-2-3 starters, so we're going to have to work on that and a closer and figure the whole thing out before too long. I've said every year it takes 15-20 games to figure out your lineup and to figure out your pitching staff and their roles. You can do all you want in the preseason and in the fall but when you get out here and play, you start to see how people react in those situations. It takes a while."

Behind Casey Harman, who are your candidates now for the second and third weekend spots?

"Casey Harman, Scott Weismann, and then we have some other guys… Will Lamb has thrown good, Kevin Brady has thrown well which is a great sign for us, we've got Justin Sarratt, a freshman in Dominic Leone, David Haselden. We've got some options to choose from. Some of those guys are versatile. They can fill some other roles, too. We'll figure out it before too long. I'm excited about where it's going to go."

Gone is Pitching Coach Kyle Bunn to Alabama for more money, in is Dan Pepicelli from St. John Fisher College in Rochester NY, who got more money than Bunn and a stipend for a car to use in recruiting (basically why Bunn left). He spent the last 9 seasons there as Head Coach, compiling a 200-136-1 record. His teams made it to the Div III Championship in 2007, and won their league titles in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009.

Obviously none of the numbers for the returning pitchers are daunting. We finished with a 3.68 Staff ERA (5th NCAA) but lost what would've been a dominant staff this year to graduation/Draft. We also lost top recruit Madison Younginer to the BoSox. As usual, a great recruiting class gets cannibalized by MLB.

I expect at least 100 posts on TardNet after every loss saying that Leggett should be fired, so be prepared. Everyone will come out of the woodwork saying he doesn't know what he's doing with his small-ball philosophies. 

I have to admit that Leggett may deserve more criticism after the results the last few seasons, and hitting coach/Recruiting coordinator Tom Riginos in particular, but last year we got outpitched by a dominant staff at Arizona State to end our season. The defensive gaffes that made the scores worse should be corrected.

A good site to keep in mind over this year is College Baseball Today, who give their impressions of the ACC here.

Our plan here for baseball season is to cover a weekend series after its all finished, but since we don't live near Clemson, we can't view many games in person, anyone who goes to the games and wishes to write a synopsis or critique is welcome to do so in a FanPost on the right. If it meets our standards, we'll move your post to the front page.

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