Countdown to Opening Day - Position Analysis

Countdown to Opening Day - Position Analysis

Baseball

Countdown to Opening Day - Position Analysis

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As we count down to opening day, TheClemsonInsider is poised to bring you the best Clemson baseball coverage around in 2011. In part one of a two part series, TCI goes in depth with a player-by-player breakdown for position players in 2011. 

Catcher:

Spencer Kieboom:

The sophomore will likely be the starter behind the plate for Clemson. Kieboom came on strong at the end of last season and was the starter for all 11 NCAA Tournament games after starting only two during the first 59 games of the year. He finished last season batting .263 with five doubles and 10 RBI. Kieboom, who is very good defensively behind the plate, had a strong fall series and look for his numbers to rise with him getting the opportunity to play every day. 

Phil Pohl:

In his third year in the program, Pohl raised his average to .212 last season despite having less at-bats than his freshman year. He finished with 7 doubles and 19 RBI while splitting time between catcher and first base. Pohl, one of the most respected players on the team, is solid behind the plate and also had a strong fall series. Look for Pohl play a key reserve role for the Tigers in 2011. 

Jake Fletcher:

A freshman for the Tigers this spring, Fletcher should see some playing time this year. Look for his main role to be as a bullpen catcher, but will provide Clemson with some depth behind the plate. 

Marcus Curry:

A second-year walk-on with the Tiger program, Curry did not appear in a game last season but filled a key need for the Tigers as a bullpen catcher. Curry will continue in that role this season and may get some playing time behind the plate for the Tigers.

 First base:

Richie Shaffer:

Shaffer, who started 44 games for the Tigers as a freshman last season, had a very strong rookie campaign. In 48 games, he hit .323 with 11 doubles, seven homers, and 36 RBI last spring despite missing several weeks with an injury. Shaffer showed those same skills during the fall and will be a mainstay in the middle of the Tigers lineup in 2011. Don’t be shocked if Shaffer sees some time at third base for the Tigers this season as he played a few innings there during the fall. 

Second base:

Jason Stolz:

Stolz, in his third year at Clemson, played a key role in the Tigers run to Omaha in 2010. An injury relegated him to the bench most of the season, but Stolz came on strong when it mattered for Clemson. In 37 games he hit .222 with three doubles and 14 RBI, but in a crucial series against Florida State was 6-for-12 with three RBI while making several spectacular plays in the field. Stolz had a strong fall series at shortstop, but don’t be shocked to see him at second base when the Tigers open the 2011 campaign.

 Steve Wilkerson:

Even though Wilkerson will be a freshman this season, many people expect him to challenge Stolz for the starting position at second base. Wilkerson, who is from Roswell, GA, was a 15th round selection of the Boston Red Sox, but chose to attend Clemson. Wilkerson was impressive during the fall scrimmages, and even if he is not starting at second, don’t be shocked to see him in the lineup at DH.

 Shortstop:

Brad Miller:

Miller, who was rated as the 35th best 2011 collegiate prospect by Baseball America during the offseason, returns for this third year at shortstop for Clemson. Miller, who had some fielding issues last year, saw his numbers at the plate rise tremendously in 2010. In 69 games, he hit .357 with 19 doubles, four triples, eight homers, and 49 RBI. His 50 walks last season were good for 23rd in the nation as he showed an excellent eye at the plate. Miller had a strong summer with Team USA and showed no signs of letting up during the fall. Look for Miller to continue to be the everyday shortstop while improving his fielding from last season. Don’t be surprised if Miller, like several other Tiger infielders, moves around to play some second or third base sometime during the season.

 Third base:

John Hinson:

Hinson, who chose to come back to Clemson for 2011 despite being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies after last season, returns for his fourth year in the Tiger program. Last season was the most productive season for Hinson as he hit .351 with nine doubles, 17 homers, and 75 RBI in 67 games, all while coming off back surgery that caused him to miss the 2009 season. Hinson, a career .328 hitter, will again anchor down the middle of the Clemson lineup in 2011 while playing third base. 

Reserve Infielders:

Mike Dunster:

Dunster comes to Clemson from Greenwich, Connecticut. The freshman may not see many starts in an experienced infield, but should get some playing time throughout the season. 

Jon Surber:

Surber comes to Clemson after an outstanding high school career in Lisle, Illinois. During his prep career, Surber was a two-time all-state, all-conference, and all-area selection and set the Lisle Senior High record for both home runs and RBI during his career. Even though it doesn’t look like he may be starting, don’t be shocked if Surber gets some at-bats at DH and is used often as a pinch hitter off the bench in 2011. 

Jonathan McGibbon:

McGibbon, who can play both first base as well as outfield, comes to Clemson from Linderhurst, New York. With his versatility, don’t be shocked if McGibbon sees some time in the outfield as well in 2011. 

Kevin Caughman:

Caughman returns for his second year at Clemson in 2011. The walk-on appeared in four games last season and will help Clemson have one of the deeper infields in recent history. 

Outfielders:

Jeff Schaus:

Schaus, a two-time All-ACC selection and a preseason second-team All-American by NCBWA, returns for his final season in Tigertown. Schaus hit .320 last season with 15 homers, 14 doubles, and 87 RBI in 70 games. His 87 RBI tied for the second-most in Clemson history and were the fourth-most in the nation in 2010. Schaus turned down the Cleveland Indians to return for his final season at Clemson. Schaus, who has never missed a game in his collegiate career, will again anchor the Tiger outfield in 2011, but don’t be shocked if he plays right field some this season as opposed to his customary left field. 

Chris Epps:

In his third year in the Clemson program, Epps looks to become an everyday fixture in the outfield in 2011. Last season, Epps hit .221 in 56 games and led the team with 16 stolen bases. A career .244 hitter, Epps has an excellent eye at the plate and his career mark of one walk every 3.97 at-bats is third-best in school history. Epps had a strong fall and looks to continue that into the spring. 

Will Lamb:

Arguably the most versatile player on the team, Lamb will again split time between the mound and the outfield in 2011. Last season Lamb played some outfield, but also was forced into action at first base when Shaffer was injured. For the season, he played in 52 games and hit .289 with six doubles, two triples, four homers, and 36 RBI while going a perfect 14-14 on stolen bases. When Lamb isn’t on the mound in 2011, don’t be shocked to see him roaming the outfield for the Tigers.

 Dominic Attanasio:

Attanasio, who comes to Clemson from the same high school as Brad Miller, will compete for major playing time in the outfield in 2011. Attanasio had a strong fall in centerfield and could easily split time with Lamb, getting the starts in centerfield on days Lamb is on the mound.

 Joe Costigan:

Costigan, who comes to Clemson from the same high school as Jeff Schaus and former Tiger Andy D’Alessio, is another freshman that will compete for major playing time in the outfield in 2011. Costigan had a strong fall and like his former high school teammates seems to have a good bat at the plate. Expect Costigan to get some major at-bats in 2011, either as an outfielder or at DH. 

Jay Cox:

Cox, who is in second year at Clemson, was ineligible to play last season after transferring from Florence-Darlington Tech. Cox had a very strong fall and should see some playing time in 2011.

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