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Clemson Baseball Review: Outfielders

After a roller coaster season, we break down Clemson’s outfield and look ahead to how the unit will look next season.

Photo credit to Ryan Kantor

2017 Recap

The 2017 Clemson outfield featured some mixing and matching early on in the season, and seemed to find some consistency with some older talent later in the season. RS junior Reed Rohlman stepped up in a big way for the Tigers after some early season struggles that led to his benching. Rohlman went on to lead the Tigers in season batting average with a .361. He also led the team with 82 hits. Rohlman also was a solid force defensively for the Tigers, and that was on display with his great catches in the Sunday night regional win over Vanderbilt. Chase Pinder held down centerfield for the season and was also a consistent force for the Tigers. Pinder had a perfect fielding percentage and hit .305 on the year. Sophomore Seth Beer didn’t have quite the eye popping offensive numbers this season as he did in his freshman campaign, partly due to him being pitched around. Beer picked things up toward the end of the season and in the playoffs, though. He led the team in homers with 16 and in slugging percentage with a .606. Beer also looked to be a step faster on the base path and in the outfield than he was last season. Beer also showcased his arm throughout the season with some impressive throws. Typically, when Beer is discussed, people focus on his offense, however his ability to throw out runners is superb. Graduate transfer Weston Jackson from Presbyterian College was a nice addition to the lineup. Jackson contributed in right and left field and provided speed and good defense. Jackson also contributed offensively with 8 home runs and 31 RBI’s on the year. Junior Drew Wharton and RS Sophomore KJ Bryant appeared in 25 and 20 games, respectively. Wharton posted a .214 offensively and had a perfect fielding percentage on defense. KJ’s speed was utilized often as he was used in the pinch runner role in many late game situations.

2018 Preview

While Rohlman is a RS Junior, it looks as though his career in Tiger Town is over with him graduating this spring. He will be awaiting to hear his name called in the MLB Draft to see where he will continue his career. This will leave a big hole for the Tigers not just offensively and defensively, but in leadership as well. The Tigers will also lose Weston Jackson. Chase Pinder was selected Tuesday in the seventh round by the Minnesota Twins. If Pinder decides to put off his pro baseball career and come back for one more year in Clemson, he will be a guy that is looked to as a leader for the 2018 squad. Pinder would keep his spot at center field, yet the other two positions are not quite as solid. Seth Beer’s position is uncertain as to where the Tigers want to use him. He began 2017 at first base, before being moved back to right field while also starting some games at DH. Beer’s position may be influenced by how the Tigers use Chris Williams. Williams started at catcher for much of the season, yet late season injuries limited him to just a few appearances at DH. After a rough start, freshman catcher Kyle Wilkie came into his own late in the postseason. Depending on Wilkie’s progress, Williams could potentially be relegated to DH or return to his role at catcher. The Tigers will also be looking to replace first baseman Andrew Cox, which is another role that Seth Beer could take. Beer playing DH or first potentially opens the door for KJ Bryant to return to right field where he has made multiple starts. KJ is a solid enough player offensively, but has had some defensive issues over his career, which can hopefully be worked on during the offseason. This potentially puts Wharton in left. Expect some freshman to also come in and compete for jobs. The Tigers’ recruiting class features two outfielders: Sam Hall from Hampstead, NC, and Matthew Cooper from Taylors, SC.