CLEMSON – Clemson baseball coach Jack Leggett is leading a push for college baseball to adopt the minor league ball. The minor league ball has a harder core than the college ball, meaning it can travel further, and it also has lower seams which reduce air resistance.
College baseball could use a livelier ball. Because of the depressed offense from the new bats, some teams are moving fences in. Runs are have decreased significantly.
Clemson could use a livelier ball. The Tigers lose players who combined for 36 of the team’s 44 home runs last season, and lose an elite bat in Richie Shaffer, whose on-base plus slugging percentage (1.053) was more than 200 points greater than the No. 2 ranking Tiger last season, Thomas Brittle (.818).
Unfortunately for power-challenged Clemson, the earliest the new ball could be adopted by the NCAA is next season.
Clemson will have a new look this spring, returning just three starters, and it will have to score runs in new ways, as most of its power is departed.
The good news is the freshman class received rave reviews this fall for its work ethic and athleticism. OF Maleeke Gibson, OF Steven Duggar and SS Tyler Krieger are freshmen who are competing for starting jobs and they can all run.
Yes, Clemson will have to play small ball in 2013. Yes, Clemson is going to be limited offensively, that’s the bad news if you are a Clemson partisan.
The good news is Clemson might have the pitching staff to be competitive.
The last time we saw Daniel Gossett he looked like a potential ace, leaving with the lead in the eighth inning against South Carolina in the Columbia Regional last June. He’s worked on strengthening his 5-11, 170 frame and has developed a change-up. Matt Campbell is healthy and has a good arm, Kevin Pohle had his moments as a weekend starter, Scott Firth is a relief ace. But it’s the freshman class of arms that should have you excited as Clemson fan.
According to Perfect Game, freshman RHP Clate Schmidt can touch 96 mph.
Freshman lefty Zach Erwin is 6-5, a lanky frame that holds tone of projection.
And the prize is Matthew Crownover, a lefty with a smooth delivery, a 94 mph fastball and two Georgia POY awards. The only reason he’s on campus is Tommy John surgery in March kept him from the pro game last June. He was Baseball America’s 87th best prep prospect last spring.
This Clemson team is going to be different. It will have to be based upon speed and run prevention. This Clemson team will be different, but it can still be competitive.
WATSON NOW A FIVE-STAR TALENT
It’s critical to have QB talent in the pipeline, and Clemson is rich with QB talent.
We already knew Deshaun Watson was really good, now the rising prep senior has been elevated to five-star status by Rivals.com.
Clemson already has Chad Kelly waiting in the wings and Watson could potentially give Clemson another option.
The issue is will Watson make it to campus? Chad Morris is his recruiter of record and playing under Morris is no doubt a major attraction. But the question is will Morris be on campus in 2014? If Morris remains, Watson likely arrives. If not? We’ll see. We’re only 360 days from signing day!