With the speedy, strong-armed Steven Duggar and the experienced, gritty Tyler Slaton manning the outfield, Clemson's group of outfielders should be a fun group to keep your eye on. Although the Tigers have two key returning starters, the question of who will play in left field is one that Clemson fans have been throwing around the past year and also adds to the intrigue of the outfielders of Clemson's 2015 baseball team.
Here is a look at the returning players as well as the newcomers for this year's group of outfielders.
Steven Duggar (Junior) - Right Fielder out of Moore, South Carolina
Known by many as Clemson's best player and best pro prospect, the co-captain comes into this year with high expectations from hopeful Clemson fans as well as from many across the country. Duggar was selected to the third team of Baseball America's preseason All-American team and was also selected to their Golden Spikes Award Watch List of 50 players. He's a career .297 hitter, has the strongest arm on the team, and is arguably the team's fastest player. Last year Duggar hit .294, 1 home run, had 36 RBI's, had a .378 slugging percentage, and stole 25 bases on 28 attempts. He's ranked the number 45 overall prospect for the 2015 draft by MLB.com and the number 6 overall prospect out of the ACC for the 2015 draft by Perfect Game. Duggar has all the tools you want for an outfielder. Expect big things from him this year.
Tyler Slaton (Senior) - Center Fielder out of Cumming, Georgia
The lefty center fielder and other co-captain for the Tigers is only 5-8, but the experienced, under-sized senior should be the biggest leader the Tigers have this year. Clemson will need Slaton for more than just leadership though. Last year he hit .274, 3 home runs, 25 RBIS, with a .391 on-base percentage, and had 11 stolen bases. His team will need him to improve even more on those numbers and step up big this year..
Maleeke Gibson (Redshirt Sophomore)- Outfielder out of Sumter, South Carolina
Gibson was redshirted last year, but in 2013 he had 26 starts for the Tigers at DH and in left field. That year he hit .227 with 16 RBIs, 20 runs, and eight steals in the 40 games that he played. The lefty is a speedster that should be used in pinch-running situations, but I will be surprised if he gets the starting nod for the majority of the season in the left field position that is up for grabs.
Mike Triller (Redshirt Junior) - Outfielder out of Rutland, Vermont
Triller only started 4 games last year, but he is known as an incredibly hard-working player. He actually is a career .291 hitter with a .333 on-base percentage in 44 games played. In the 21 games he played last year he batted .250 with an RBI and 2 steals. Barring injuries, don't expect to see a ton of Triller this year.
K.J. Bryant (Freshman) - Outfielder out of Taylors, South Carolina
Clemson fans love any player named K.J... especially when they are ridiculously athletic, which is the case with Bryant. He is known for his outstanding speed, and was described by Assistant Head Coach Bradley LeCroy as being a, "tremendous athlete with unbelievable physical tools," and due to these tools, he was expected by many to be the new starting left-fielder for the Tigers this year. That prediction seems doubtful now, but there's no doubt that Bryant has a bright future. He was ranked the number 1 outfielder and number 2 player in South Carolina by Perfect Game.
Drew Wharton (Freshman) - Outfielder/First Baseman out of Suwanee, Georgia
Wharton will also be in competition for the starting left field position. The 6-2 freshman was a potential MLB draft pick before deciding to attend college. He has the potential to add some more pop to the line-up, and could see playing time both in the outfield, at first base, and at DH. He was ranked the number 28 player and number 10 outfielder in Georgia by Perfect Game.
Reed Rohlman (Redshirt Freshman) - Outfielder out of Moore, South Carolina
Rohlman was redshirted last year due to injury, and is expected to play in the outfield and maybe at the DH position once Krieger gets healthy. He's one of the better pure hitters Clemson has, and I wouldn't be surprised to see plenty of the lefty this season. In high school he was ranked a top-500 player in the nation by Perfect Game.
Between the experience and talent of both Duggar and Slaton, Clemson's outfielders should be a reliable, consistent group no matter who's playing in left field. Left field remains the question mark though, and who Leggett goes with in left field will definitely be interesting to observe. Don't be surprised to see a platoon in left field early on. Once Krieger gets healthy, there's even a possibility Chase Pinder could see some time in left field. With all the turnover on this team, Jack will without a doubt need everything he can get from not only his captains, but also his left-fielder.