Clemson baseball will begin practice for the 2019 baseball season on Friday and to say the Tigers have some question marks is an understatement.
Clemson returns just three starting position players, while losing five. The biggest loses are of course outfielder Seth Beer and first baseman Chris Williams. The two combined for 40 of the Tigers’ 98 home runs and 126 of the team’s 375 RBIs.
But there is some good news for head coach Monte Lee. Clemson will return shortstop Logan Davidson who caught fire at the end of last season and finished the year with .292 average, had 15 home runs and drove in 46 runs from the lead-off position.
In the last six weeks of the season, no one was playing better than Davidson in the ACC, as he hit well over .400.
Davidson finished with a .544 slug percentage and with a .401 on base percentage. The most impressive stat about Davidson was his 97.1 fielding percentage at shortstop. He had just 8 errors in 63 games.
“We have the best shortstop in the country in my opinion in Logan Davidson,” Lee said to The Clemson Insider. “His fall (practice) was unbelievable. I have never had a player have the kind of fall that he had.”
In fall practice, Davidson hit .439 with 9 home runs and scored 29 runs with a .515 on base percentage.
“He looked like a man amongst boys playing this fall,” Lee said. “He looked like ‘this guy does not belong here.’ He was unbelievable from an offensive production standpoint, so Logan is going to play shortstop.”
Catcher Kyle Wilkie is back too. He ended last year with a 29-game hitting streak, while leading his squad with a .324 batting average. He had five home runs and drove in 40 runs overall. The junior also had a .440 slug percentage and had a .422 on base percentage as well.
Second baseman Jordan Greene is also back for his senior year after he started 40 of 48 games at second base. He hit .250 and had five home runs and 21 RBIs. He had a slug percentage of .404 and an on base percentage of .398.
Clemson is coming off a year in which it set a school record for defensive fielding percentage.
“We had a good team last year, and we fully anticipate having a good club this year when it comes to how we play defensively,” Lee said.
Though the Tigers lost some every day starters, they also return some guys that got a lot of experience in 2018.
Grayson Byrd, who played in 48 games and started 39, will likely replace Williams at first base. Sam Hall is back after starting 21 games and playing in 25 last season. Bryce Teodosio played in 37 games a year ago and had 24 starts, while sophomore Kier Meredith is back as well.
“We feel like a healthy Bryce Teodosio, who we lost towards the end of the year, with TO back, and if we can keep him healthy and he plays the game so hard and is so intense … we have to tell him to back off a little bit from time-to-time, but that is the way you want it and those are the kind of guys you want,” Lee said. “I feel like Bryce is arguably one of the best defensive centerfielders in our league. I feel like, and we have been very blessed to have good centerfielders here, I feel like Bryce falls along those lines.”
Meredith spent much of last year injured and played in just 13 games. However, when he was in the lineup, he started in 12 of them.
“Kier has been working very, very hard with our training staff and our strength staff to be able to get back to hundred percent,” Lee said. “Kier is a legitimate 65 to 60 runner and TO is a 65 to 60 runner, too, so you feel like Kier could flank him in left field and could also play centerfield.
“We feel like we have two guys there that are certainly above average defenders.”
Clemson will begin preseason practice Friday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson. The Tigers open the new season on Feb. 15 against South Alabama.
Clemson’s projected position starters heading into preseason practice
SS Logan Davidson
2b Jordan Greene
C Kyle Wilkie
1B Grayson Byrd
3b Sam Hall
Lf Kier Meredith
Cf Bryce Teodosio
RF Michael Green or Matt Cooper