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2018 Clemson Baseball Season Preview: Infielders

NCAA Football: Auburn at Clemson Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The only starter the Tigers lost from last season was first baseman Andrew Cox who was an underrated yet solid player for the Tigers during his time in Clemson. Even with the number of returning players the only position that remains settled is shortstop where Logan Davidson started all of last year as a true freshman was named a Freshman All-American after the season.

Position Rundown

First Base- Chris Williams, who was the starting catcher for most of last season, will start the season as the Tigers’ starting first baseman. After suffering a shoulder injury towards the end of the season, Williams’ shoulder is still not 100% and the staff would prefer to remain on the cautious side since he is a huge part of the team (we all saw how the team performed down the stretch after Chris Williams’ injury). Once Williams’ shoulder is fully healed and he is ready to start catching again we could see Seth Beer get some innings at first base. Beer spent a large portion of Fall practice at first base and has improved immensely at the position according to the coaching staff. Patrick Cromwell, who started the early portion of last year as the starting third baseman, is another potential option at first base in addition to third base. Cromwell struggled with the bat in first season with the Tigers but hit very well during the Fall and is a plus defender at third and first base according to Coach Lee.

Second Base- Jordan Greene was the starter for most of last year at 2nd base. Greene is a plus defender and a major threat on the base paths with his speed. However, Greene has proven to be average at best with the bat (I think his services would be best utilized as a late game pinch-runner and defensive replacement). At the moment the competition for this spot is between Greene, Grayson Byrd, and JUCO transfer Justin Hawkins. At the moment I would give the leg up at this spot to Grayson Byrd who was the starter at third base for most of the year last year. After sitting out his first season in Tigertown after transferring from LSU, Byrd would hit .284 with a homer and 20 RBIs in 2017. Coach Lee lauded Byrd as the most improved player on the team and could be an underrated catalyst for the Tigers this coming season. A lot of what ends up happening here will depend on what happens at third base.

Shortstop- This is the only position in the infield that is set in stone at the moment. Logan Davidson started all of last year at shortstop and is lauded by the coaching staff as one of the best shortstops in the country. Davidson struggled a little bit in the field (which isn’t uncommon for true freshmen) during his first season in Tigertown but hit .286 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. However, Davidson has made major strides defensively this offseason according to Coach Lee and will remain to be a major stalwart in the lineup as part of what is arguably the best three-headed lineup monster in the country with Seth Beer and Chris Williams.

Third Base- Grayson Byrd was the starter here for most of the year last year. However, Byrd has been working at second base a good bit this offseason. The competition for this spot is between Byrd, Patrick Cromwell, and Justin Hawkins. If the coaching staff decides to play Byrd at second base then we could possibly see a platoon between Cromwell (who bats left-handed) and Hawkins (who bats right-handed) at this position. Hawkins may easily have the best pure power potential on the team but needs to cut down on the strikeouts according to the coaching staff. However, if neither Hawkins or Cromwell work out the coaching staff could move Byrd back to third base where he was a more than capable presence last year.