Clemson Baseball

Kier Meredith on health and baseball season: "Ready to go"

January 29, 2019
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Monte Lee’s offense is about to look a little bit different for the 2019 campaign.

For one, the Clemson head coach is going to be without Chris Williams and Seth Beer, two players who hit for nearly half of Clemson’s 98 home runs in 2018. The Tigers were known as “power” lineup with the now-drafted upperclassmen leading the charge to be the nation’s second-best team in home runs per game.

Everyone on the outside is talking about what Clemson is going to have to do to replace two assets that meant so much to the program.

Clemson does return Logan Davidson, who has the chance to be a top-10 draft pick toward the end of the season, as well as Kyle Wilkie, Jordan Greene, and Grayson Byrd and other leaders. But waiting in the wings is one player who we only caught a small glimpse of in 2018.

Kier Meredith’s freshman campaign did not go the way he wanted it to. He entered last year’s season already dealing with an injury and did not make his debut until Clemson traveled to Notre Dame during ACC play. He then injured his right shoulder and had an oblique injury which kept him sidelined, or at least not at 100 percent, when he was on the field.

Now that he’s had an offseason to work his way back to full health, Meredith looked like a player who has something to prove when we spoke to him on Friday.

“This is the first time I have been healthy in a long time,” Meredith said. “Opening Day I'll be out there, ready to go.”

“This is the first time I have been healthy in a long time,” Meredith said. “Opening Day I'll be out there, ready to go.”

This is actually the first time Meredith has been at full strength since he stepped on Clemson’s campus. The outfielder said he was at around 85 to 90-percent, “at best,” throughout the entirety of last season when he was available to play.

Meredith only played in 13 games of Clemson’s 63 games in 2018, but when he did have the opportunity to touch the diamond, he left his mark at the plate. Of those 13 games, he started in 12 of them and his dynamic speed in the outfield and in the base path gave Clemson’s powerful lineup a different kind of flavor.

He reached base at least once per game when he got a plate appearance and stole four bases. Meredith batted .280 and had a .455 on-base percentage in the seven ACC regular-season games he played. In his first game of the season, he hit 2-for-3 with a triple, which he tied for the team lead for by the end of the season in just 13 games.

In high school, Meredith was a highly touted recruit out of Winston-Salem, N.C. and was ranked No. 3 freshman in the conference by D1 Baseball. He turned down entering the Chicago Cubs organization after he was drafted in the 28h round to play for Lee at Clemson. He is currently the eighth-ranked prospect in the ACC for the 2020 ACC Draft.

Knowing the talent he possesses and having a lot of expectations next to his name as he stepped on campus, Meredith said last season was a different kind of grind.

“It was tough. Definitely a lot of ups and downs,” Meredith said. “I honestly grew up a lot last year going through that entire process. I’m ready to go this year, and I’m just excited I was able to get through it.

“Honestly, it was a huge humbling process for me. Like you just said, coming in as a highly sought after guy, to coming in last year and not playing very much. I had to humble myself a lot. It was great. I loved it.”

So what does a healthy Kier Meredith bring to the table? Well, at 85-percent healthy he was already one of - if not the most - fastest player on the team. If healthy, it is presumed that Meredith would generally bat at the top of the order with Logan Davidson or Kyle Wilkie somewhere behind him. And if he’s able to get on base at a consistent rate as he did in the small sample size of 2018, then the top of Clemson’s lineup could cause some damage if he’s able to get into scoring position often.

Meredith would also be able to cover more range in the outfield with his glove, whether it’s in left field or centerfield where he got most of his action a season ago. Then, there’s his confidence, which already looked like it was there off the field. Now, it’s almost time to see that energy on it.

Lee is optimistic about the sophomore, who is chomping at the bit for Opening Day. But the ultimate goal now that Meredith is healthy is to keep him that way for the long haul.

“Trying to make sure he’s healthy is a big deal,” Lee said. “A guy that’s a 6.4, 6.5 (60-yard dash) runner with that caliber of speed when he’s at 80, 85 percent, it changes what he’s able to do.”

“Trying to make sure he’s healthy is a big deal,” Lee said. “A guy that’s a 6.4, 6.5 (60-yard dash) runner with that caliber of speed when he’s at 80, 85 percent, it changes what he’s able to do.

“Right now, we feel like Kier is in a really good spot in terms of his health. We’ve just got to keep him that way. That’s always that fine line as a coach. You want to train your team as hard as you can to get them better and better, but you also have to be aware of the health factor and make sure we’re doing everything we can from a recovery standpoint to make they stay fresh.”

As interviews wrapped up, Meredith was asked what Clemson fans should expect this season now that he’s 100-percent healthy. His answer was short, but it’s what every fan would like to hear.

“They’re going to see a guy with a lot of speed, a guy that’s going to try to create havoc on the bases,” Meredith added. “A high energy guy and a guy that’s just going to help my team get wins.”

We kept a close eye on Meredith as Clemson began a Friday afternoon scrimmage. In an orange jersey donning a No. 1 on the back of it, Meredith did what he did best in just one inning. He got on base by getting hit by a pitch, stole second and third, and then scored the first run of the afternoon.

He looked like a player with a chip on his shoulder. He looked 100-percent.

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