Clemson Baseball

How will Clemson replace Logan Davidson and other key pieces?

June 24, 2019
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The MLB Draft went about as expected for Clemson head baseball coach Monte Lee and his staff.

The Tigers are losing significant leaders like Logan Davidson, who was drafted in the first round to the Oakland Athletics, Grayson Byrd, Kyle Wilkie, and Owen Griffith, to name a few.

Byrd led the team in home runs, batting average, and RBIs as a senior. Davidson and Wilkie were the two next best hitters on the roster. On paper, Lee is losing a lot, but he’s confident in the returning group as well as the incoming class of players he has.

“Those are big pieces to try to replace but we do have a good group of incoming guys,” Lee said Tuesday.

Four of Lee’s incoming recruits were drafted out of high school. Nasim Nunez went to the Miami Marlins with the 46th overall pick and officially signed over a week ago. Gavin Collyer, Dylan Brewer, and Jonathan French were also drafted in later rounds.

So how will Clemson replace the pieces they are losing in the infield, especially Logan Davidson who was so vital on both offense and defense? That’s the highest priority Lee has entering the fall.

“We feel very good about the class we’ve got coming in and feel good about the group we’ve got coming back and just ready to obviously, now move forward in recruiting for the 2020 and 2021 classes. It never ends.”
- Monte Lee

“(We) had two guys drafted that are coming in that turned down the opportunity to play professional baseball,” Lee said. “Had another young man in Mack Anglin that could’ve received significant draft interest, but I think the signability was very high. He really valued the opportunity to come to school first and could potentially become a high draft pick out of here when his time comes to look at it again.

“We feel very good about the class we’ve got coming in and feel good about the group we’ve got coming back and just ready to obviously, now move forward in recruiting for the 2020 and 2021 classes. It never ends.”

Dylan Brewer and Jonathan French are the two players who turned down professional contracts to play college baseball, something that is never easy to do this day in age. Lee said Brewer, who is from Latta, SC and was an all-state outfielder, can play either outfield or infield.

French, who is from Atlanta, Ga., was drafted in the 30th round to the Cleveland Indians, but Lee thinks French will be “special” in a Tiger uniform. Adam Hackenberg, who is in the Cape Cod league this summer, and French will battle it out to see who will be the man behind home plate.

Incoming freshman, Mack Anglin, a RHP/first baseman from Marengo, OH, was another player Lee eluded to. Anglin throws a 93 MPH fastball and has good command on his breaking ball, according to Perfect Game.

The infield could be a carousel for the players returning as there are plenty of options and combinations of who could play in which spot. It’ll be like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle and molding the pieces to fill the gaps that were left behind.

© David Grooms/Clemson Sports Talk
Clemson’s pitching staff should take steps forward with the return of a health Spencer Strider.

Sophomore Bryar Hawkins will be put at third base to start the year. Hawkins was a high school shortstop and second baseman, so Lee wants to try him over at third base.

As for replacing Davidson at shortstop, there are plenty of candidates. Sam Hall, James Parker, and Pierce Gallow were the first names that Lee mentioned.

“James Parker played a lot for us last year. Got 50-plus at-bats, is playing all summer long in Wilmington at shortstop, is a really good defender, needs the at-bats just to develop more as a hitter but had some big at-bats for us as a true freshman,” Lee said. “We have a young man in Pierce Gallo who is fairly highly-touted, long, lean projectable in-fielder shortstop out of the Atlanta area that’s going to be coming in and battling for some opportunities there.”

Parker started 15 games as a freshman and batted .232. He had 13 hits, three doubles, and a home run in 56 at-bats. Gallo, the incoming freshman, is projected to get stronger and “can manipulate his arm slot and maintain arm strength and accuracy, has some one-step quickness and range,” according to Perfect Game.

“Sam Hall is going to move into the infield. We’ll put Sam Hall at shortstop and second base in the fall.”

“Sam Hall is going to move into the infield. We’ll put Sam Hall at shortstop and second base in the fall.”
- Monte Lee

Hall started all 61 games played in the 2019 season and he was a utility player who was positioned all around the field. He batted .257 and hit seven home runs and drove in 32 runs on the year.

Lee said Chad Fairey could play some first base or third base because of the athleticism he possesses.

Clemson returns a ton of depth and innings on the pitcher’s mound. The real concern there is getting Spencer Strider at full strength by the time the season starts and finding some consistency in a rotation.

Clemson’s 2019 team was young in some spots, but had veterans in place at critical areas. The 2020 team could look a whole lot younger as far as the infield is concerned. It’ll be up to Lee to crack the code and see who fits best where.

“I think position player wise, I think you have to be more patient if you have young position players and you’re playing young position players,” Lee said. “Offensively, to me, is where going into the fall, we’ve got some work to do as far as trying to figure out who’s going to play where and what kind of team are we going to be on the offensive side of things.”

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