By Trey McCurry.
Coach Jack Leggett welcomes back 11 returning position players and eight newcomers in 2012. The Tigers will be forced to replace the left side of their infield as well as all three outfield starters. Look for several familiar names to fill those roles, just maybe not in the position they may have played in seasons past.
#22 Spencer Kieboom C
The junior from Marietta, GA was on the Johnny Bench Award Watch List after a stellar season in 2011. In his first full season behind the plate, Kieboom hit .282 with 22 runs, 10 doubles, one homer, 31 RBI, 22 walks, and four HBPs against only 13 strikeouts in 53 games (51 starts). An All-ACC Academic team member, the junior also had a team-high seven sacrifice flies which was good enough to tie him for 25th in the nation. Kieboom should continue his rise in 2012 and will be one of the team leaders this upcoming season.
#12 Jon McGibbon 1B/OF
The sophomore from Lindenhurst, NY was one of the team’s best freshman in 2011 and a solid pinch hitter for the Tigers. In 43 games (11 starts), the lefty hit .339 with eight runs, four doubles, one homer, and 14 RBI. In McGibbon’s 11 starts in 2011, Clemson also went 10-1. This upcoming season, McGibbon is expected to be an every day starter for the Tigers and appears to be the leading candidate to start at first base.
#17 Steve Wilkerson 2B/SS
The sophomore from Roswell, GA is a talented middle infielder and Clemson’s first switch-hitter since Patrick Boyd. In 2011, Wilkerson seemed to struggle adjusting to the college game as he hit .173 with 13 runs, five RBI, and one steal in 42 games, including 12 starts at second base while Brad Miller was out with an injury. Look for Wilkerson’s game to improve greatly in 2012 as he tries to hold off a challenge from Dunster for the starting job at second base and don’t be surprised to see the switch-hitter spend a little more time focusing on only one side of the plate.
#2 Jason Stolz INF
The senior from Marietta, GA is back to help anchor the Tiger infield in 2012. Last season, playing mostly second base, Stolz hit .285 with 30 runs, 10 doubles, one homer, 27 RBI, 10 sac bunts (seventh most in school history), and eight steals while starting all 63 games and dealing with nagging injuries throughout the season. Stolz returns this season to the infield, but is expected to move over and start at shortstop for the Tigers in 2012.
#8 Richie Shaffer 3B/1B
The junior from Charlotte, NC has played a magnificent first base the past two seasons for the Tigers, committing only three errors in his career (.996 fielding percentage). A First-Team All-ACC selection last season, Shaffer hit .315 with 62 runs, 15 doubles, two triples, 13 homers, and 44 walks in 63 games. One of three Tigers to start every game, the big righty led or tied the for the team lead in games, runs, homers, RBI, total bases (128), slugging (.577), and walks. Shaffer also ranked among the top-10 in the ACC in several categories as he tied for second in runs, tied for second in homers, fourth in slugging, eighth in RBI, eighth in on-base percentage (.438), ninth in total bases, and tied for ninth in walks. In 2012, Clemson fans will be able to see a different side of Shaffer as he is expected to move over to his natural position at third and is expected to be the everyday start their for the season.
#9 Phil Pohl C/1B/OF
The senior from Cooperstown, NY had an outstanding year on and off the field in 2011. The co-captain was named Second-Team All-ACC and was Clemson’s first Academic All-American since 1995. For the season, the righty hit .333 with 43 runs, a team-high (and third-best in the ACC) 22 doubles, four homers, and 33 RBI in 60 games (57 starts). In 2012, expect Pohl to mainly continue as the DH while also getting some starts at catcher (to give Kieboom some rest) and may get some starts in right field as well.
#1 Dominic Attanasio OF
The sophomore from Windermere, FL is a speedy outfielder that made tremendous contributions off the bench in 2011. The lefty hit .367 with 11 runs, two doubles, one triple, one homer, 11 RBI, and three steals in 33 games (10 starts) last season. Look for Attanasio to be a starter in 2012 in any of the three outfield positions.
#37 Kevin Caughman INF
The redshirt sophomore from Martinez, GA is an original walk-on that has provided some depth in the infield for the Tigers. Last season, after receiving a medical redshirt in 2010, the utility player had only eight at-bats in nine appearances and recorded his first career hit, a pinch-hit, run-scoring double. This season Caughman will again provide quality depth for the Tigers and may see his time off the bench increase as well.
#5 Joe Costigan OF
The sophomore from Naples, FL provided outfield depth during his freshman campaign. In 14 games, all of the bench, Costigan was 2-for-8 with two runs, four RBI, three walks, and three HBPs. The freshman was also 2-for-2 with four RBI and a walk with the bases loaded. This season Costigan should challenge for a starting outfield spot and looks to continue the strong Barron Collier tradition at Clemson started by Andy D’Alessio and Jeff Schaus.
#10 Mike Dunster INF
The sophomore from Greenwich, CT came off the bench to contribute during his freshman season and provided some quality depth at second base. In 12 games, including one start at DH, Dunster was 6-for-12 (.500) with six runs, one double, two RBI, and four walks. This season Dunster should challenge for the starting job at second base and will be a major contributor for the Tigers.
#16 Jake Fletcher C
The sophomore from Thomasville, GA is an original walk-on who played sparingly in his first year with the program. In four games off the bench, the righty was 0-for-3 but did make a highlight-reel diving catch to end the game against Gardner-Webb last season. This year Fletcher may again struggle to see much playing time behind Kieboom and Pohl, but will play a valuable role as bullpen catch and a pinch hitter.
#4 Thomas Brittle OF
The redshirt junior from Cross, SC is a transfer from the College of Charleston. In his two seasons in Charleston, the lefty hit .273 with three doubles, two homers, 12 RBI, and 16 steals in 76 games (15 starts). Brittle decided he needed a fresh start and headed to Clemson where he spent last season as a red-shirt. With two years of eligibility remaining, Brittle is expected to make an immediate impact on the Tiger outfield and don’t be shocked if he challenges for a starting spot all season long.
#3 Brad Felter OF
The graduate from Bowman, SC is a transfer from The Citadel. In his three seasons in Charleston, the lefty hit .252 with 19 doubles, 10 triples, 18 homers, 68 RBI, 107 runs, and 36 steals in 151 games (136 starts). Felter had perhaps his best season as a Bulldog last season, hitting .274 with 32 RBI and 34 runs in 53 games while also having a team-season-long 18 game hitting streak. The transfer should make an immediate impact on the Tiger outfield and don’t be shocked if he challenges for a starting spot all season long.
#13 Jay Baum INF
The freshman from Alpharetta, GA was the #15 player in Georgia by Perfect Game and the #218 player in the nation coming out of Centennial High School. This season look for Baum to provide solid depth for the infield and get some pinch-hit opportunities.
#30 Garrett Boulware C/OF
The freshman from Anderson, SC is one of two new catchers on the team and comes to Clemson with some lofty rankings. Boulware was ranked as the #5 player in South Carolina by Perfect Game, the #2 catcher in South Carolina by Diamond Prospects, and was named the Anderson Independent-Mail Player of the Year as a senior. Boulware is not expected to see much time behind the plate, but should get some good opportunities as a pinch-hitter and could even see some time in the outfield.
#32 Andrew Cleveland C
The freshman from Moore, SC is the other of the two new catchers on the team and comes to Clemson with a reputation as a solid defensive player. Like Boulware, Cleveland will see limited time behind the plate and probably be counted on more in pinch-hit situations.
#18 Tyler Slaton OF
The freshman from Cumming, GA comes to Clemson off three straight All-region selections at North Forsyth High School. With all three of last year’s starters graduating, Slaton will have a chance to play immediately and should definitely get some at-bats as the season goes along.
#35 Mike Triller OF
The freshman from Rutland, VT comes to Tigertown off a hot senior season at Rutland High School. Last season, Triller led his team in batting average (.528), was named team MVP, won the team’s Hustle Award, and was selected to the Vermont North-South All-Star game. Like Slaton, Triller will have a chance to play immediately and should definitely get some at-bats as the season goes along.
#46 Trevor Kieboom RHP/INF
The freshman from Marietta, GA is expected to focus mainly on the mound in 2012, but could give the Tigers another option of a pinch-hitter if needed and will provide more depth for the infield.