Seven Clemson student-athletes and two incoming signees got their shot at playing professional baseball in the 2021 MLB Draft and free agency this past week.
Sometimes college coaches get caught up in trying to build a successful program and spend less energy preparing players to compete beyond the amateur ranks.
But for Clemson head coach Monte Lee giving his players the tools to play in the big leagues has always been at the forefront of how he runs the program.
“I played as long as I could play and then I got into coaching and one of the things that has always been important to me is helping my players get that opportunity, and I to try and develop them as a professional baseball player in college baseball,” Lee told The Clemson Insider on Friday.
The Clemson skipper played at College of Charleston from 1996-99 and hit .333 as a leftfielder with 150 RBIs and 50 doubles. His college career earned him a spot in the St. Louis Cardinals organization who selected him in the 39th round of the 1999 MLB Draft.
Lee played two seasons of minor league baseball before he started coaching at Spartanburg Methodist College in 2001.
“Every young player has those dreams as they watch their favorite teams on television, and they are trying to emulate the stars they grow up pulling for just like I did as a player,” Lee said. “You always have that dream of playing in the major leagues one day.”
Lee incorporates his own personal experience in professional baseball into his practices and the way he runs the Tigers’ clubhouse.
“We train our players with more of a professional baseball mentality in the clubhouse and with how we run practices,” Lee said. “There is a professional baseball vibe in our program because that.”
Lee’s excitement for his players that decided to take their shot at the MLB was clear.
He spoke about each Tiger taken in the draft by name James Parker, Keyshawn Askew, Davis Sharpe, Mack Anglin, Carter Raffield and Adam Hackenberg as well as Kier Meredith who signed a free agent contract.
Lee also confirmed that Anglin will return to Clemson for another season on the mound despite being drafted in the 13th round.
“That’s why you play the game of baseball, most guys in this game that get a chance to play at a place like Clemson,” Lee said. “It’s a huge goal for a student-athlete growing up to play somewhere like Clemson but honestly the ultimate goal is to play in the big leagues.”