In the first three seasons of the Monte Lee era, the Tigers have been a team that has relied on its power for most its run production. With guys like Seth Beer, Chris Williams, and Logan Davidson anchoring the middle of the lineup, Clemson has been one of the nations best at hitting the long ball. With Beer and Williams both having moved on, and taking 41% of the 2018 teams HR’s with them, this years team might look a little different at the plate.
Instead of being so heavily reliant on the long ball, this team may need to find other ways to manufacture runs. Monte Lee has said in preseason interviews that hitters will still look to drive the ball, but at the same time they’ll be more aggressive and try and take advantage of a lineup that features plenty of speed. With guys like Kier Meredith, Bryce Teodosio, Sam Hall, Jordan Greene, and Logan Davidson, the Tigers look to be much more aggressive on the base paths, instead of the station to station approach.
The lineup hasn’t lost all of its pop however, as junior all world SS Logan Davidson returns. Coming off a season that saw him hit .292 with 15 HR, 46 RBI, and 10 SB, we get to see Logan as the centerpiece of the lineup, but without the protection of Beer and Williams.
Joining him in the infield are seniors Jordan Greene (.250/5/21) and Grayson Byrd (.243/9/26), along with sophomore Sam Hall (.239/2/7). It is looking like Byrd will make the transition to 1B, with Hall taking over at third, as the coaches want Hall in the everyday lineup. Junior C Kyle Wilkie is also back. He was the Tigers best hitter last season (.324/5/40) and finished 2018 on a 29 game hitting streak. He was also one of the teams best hitters with runners in scoring position. Outside of Hall, it’s a very experienced and battle tested infield. Even Hall saw plenty of action in his freshman season, with a lot of that coming in key situations.
The outfield looks to be filled with talent, but not a ton of experience. Sophomore Bryce Teodosio takes over in center full time, after seeing time as a freshman, mostly struggling at the plate but spectacular defensively. His worth defensively can not be overstated. After a solid showing in fall league, it sounds like he's 100% recovered from his shoulder injury, along with having improved his bat.
The highly touted Kier Meredith will take over one of the corner outfield spots after an injury riddled freshman season. Hopefully the run of bad luck is behind him and we finally get to see the speedster on a regular basis. Redshirt sophomore Michael Green, a transfer from Florence Darlington Technical College, is in line for the other corner outfield spot. Green is another guy with good speed and has received rave reviews, for both his bat and his glove, since his arrival on campus.
The weekend rotation will also look a little different. RHP Brooks Crawford will look to fill the role of Friday starter. He is coming off a 2018 in which he was 8-2 with a 3.24 ERA, and was the teams most reliable starter down the stretch. Freshman RHP Davis Sharpe locked down a starting spot with a fantastic camp, and with the season ending injury to Spencer Strider, he steps into the Saturday role. Coaches have raved about Sharpe and his abilities, saying he was one of the best pitchers throughout the fall and camp. On Sunday it will be another freshman, left hander Justin Wrobleski. He throws it hard, and had a devestating slider.
Starting two freshman is a gutsy move. Especially considering Jacob Hennessey, who was the Friday starter for most of last season, is still around. Going this route though gives the team three guys who are big, with power arms, and really good stuff. It's the kind of rotation Lee has been working to build since taking over the program.
Carson Spiers will take over the closers role, with guys like Hennessy, Holt Jones, Sam Weatherly, and Mat Clark being used in the setup role. Travis Marr and Owen Griffith are other guys to look for out of the bullpen. In the midweek role, it is looking like Jackson Lindley, another true freshman, will get the first crack at locking down that spot. The Tigers never did find that one guy they could rely on last season in the midweek spot and are determined not to have a repeat of that in 2019.
Having lost home regionals in each of his first three seasons, Monte Lee looks to take that next step with this program and advance to a super regional. He has now completely turned the roster over, bringing in a lot of talented arms to form what is now a deep pitching staff, albeit not very experienced. The youth extends beyond the pitching staff however, as 28 out of the 39 players on the roster are underclassmen.
This is a team that will be able to win in different ways. There’s still some power in the lineup, maybe even more than some expect, as well as a lot more speed. The potential is there for this to be a pretty dangerous lineup, top to bottom. However, this team will go as far as the pitching takes it. If the freshman come in ready, and are able to compete and produce at this level, this team has all the makings of a super regional caliber team. If not, it’s possible they’re still one more year away. Either way this team should be fun to watch.
The season gets started Friday against South Alabama, with first pitch scheduled for 4pm.