Though Clemson will be young on the mound this season, it’s just the opposite in the infield. The Tigers, who begin practice on Friday, return a lot of experience in the infield, especially in the middle of the defense where shortstop Logan Davidson anchors what head coach Monte Lee describes as a good defensive lineup.
“It all starts at shortstop and we have one of the best shortstops in the country in Logan Davidson,” Lee said.
Last year, Davidson hit .256 as a true freshman with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs. He was the first Clemson shortstop to hit double-digit home runs since Taylor Harbin did it in 2007.
Davidson, who has good speed and can hit for power, has a 91.3 field percentage and committed 22 errors in the field, while playing short in all 63 games.
“Logan has gotten better. He has gotten stronger,” Lee said. “I think he is a more complete player defensively and offensively this year. So we are really excited what Logan brings to the table for us.”
A second base will be redshirt junior Grayson Byrd, who can also plays third base, which is where he played most of 2017. He hit .284 last season with a home run and 22 RBIs.
“Grayson Byrd may be the most improved player from one year to the next that we have on this roster,” Lee said. “I mean he has been an offensive threat this fall. He had an outstanding fall. He was hitting for power. He was hitting for average. He is running more.
“I think he is in better shape. He as a chance to be our second baseman, but we know he can play third base so we have been playing him primarily on second to see if that is going to be an option which will allow us to put some other guys at third.”
If Byrd does have to move to third, Jordan Greene will be ready to slide right into second, where he played most of 2017.
“We have a lot of competition going on in the infield and we feel like we have a chance to put a high quality product into skin this year,” Lee said. “We know Jordan Greene is going to be in the mix and is competing for the middle. Jordan is an above average defender at second base.”
Junior College transfer Justin Hawkins heads into preseason practices as the leader for the third base spot. Lee says he has enormous power potential. He is also working some at second base, too.
Patrick Cromwell hit in the mid .300 in the fall and will also see action at third and can play some at first base as well if needed.
Then at first base there is former Dick Howser winner and two-time All-American Seth Beer, who returns to Clemson for his junior year and perhaps final season at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Despite having what many considered a down year in 2017, Beer still hit .298 with 16 home runs and had 53 RBIs. He also had a slug percentage of .606 and on base percentage of .478.
“Seth Beer will play primarily at first base, but also in left field as an option as well,” Lee said. “We feel like Seth is much improved and has worked as much as he possibly can at first base and he has gotten much, much better.”
For Lee, it is very important that his position players have the ability to play at least two positions, maybe three for versatility reasons and injury sake.
“If you want to put your best nine on the field, you have to find ways to maximize these guys,” he said. “We feel like we have some depth. We feel like we have some athleticism and we feel like we have a chance to be, in my opinion, an above average defensive team in the infield.”