Carter Raffield entered Clemson with lofty expectations in 2019 as the No. 49 freshman in the nation, according to Perfect Game.
But an arm injury in the fall and subsequent Tommy John surgery sidelined the right handed pitcher and forced him to medically redshirt his first spring as a Tiger.
The experience proved difficult for Raffield straight out of high school, but he understood it was just part of the process and knows baseball is more about how you respond.
“It was tough, it was definitely not an easy thing for me, but it’s baseball. You have to stay with it,” he said. “Things are going to happen and not everything is going to work out your way, but I think the biggest thing is how I respond to a situation like that. It’s how you handle yourself on and off the field.”
The redshirt freshman utilized his time away from the diamond to focus on personal growth in his faith which he believes spilled over into his game and made him a better baseball player.
“Going off Tommy John (surgery) my freshman year and not being able to play, it’s tough, but I’m a firm believer in God’s plan and I feel like God had a plan for me to focus more on myself off the field than on the field,” Raffield said. “Eventually, I was able to work on myself on the field, as well, and going back I was really thankful to throw in four games during the COVID year and pitching well.”
In 2020, Raffield pitched in four relief appearances and allowed just seven hits in 7 2/3 innings pitched with a 1.17 ERA, no home runs, seven strikeouts and just three walks. His appearances included 2 2/3 innings with a strikeout to earn his first career win against Boston College on March 7.
This spring Raffield competed for a starting spot after coming out of the bullpen in 2020 and he is currently slated as a starter in the midweek for the Tigers.
Clemson does not play a midweek contest during the first two weeks of the season, but Raffield is excited to contribute in any way possible to start the year.
“We just had that conversation yesterday with our pitching coach Andrew See. They have me as the midweek starter right now,” he said. “The first two weeks we don’t have a midweek game so I will be coming out of the pen on the weekends. That’s the plan as of right now and things can change, but we are ready to compete with what we have right now.”
Clemson opens the season on Friday at 4 p.m., with the first of a three-game series against Cincinnati at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson.
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