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Baseball impact players: Season Outlook: Veteran players leading way for Clemson baseball

Ashley Stout//Staff

Sophomore Seth Beer (28) hit his first home run of the season against Wright State on Saturday evening. 

The 2017 Clemson baseball season is officially underway and should be expected to bring plenty of promise with it. 

Coming off of a season that saw the Tigers win the ACC Tournament and earn a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, anticipations are naturally high early on this season, due in large part to the bevy of talented players on the Clemson roster. From a reigning National Player of the Year to a reigning All-American pitcher, several key players from last season’s team are back to lead the Tigers again this year.

Slugger Seth Beer produced arguably the greatest freshman season in the illustrious history of college baseball in 2016, becoming the first freshman to win the Dick Howser Trophy. 

Formerly an outfielder, Beer has been converted to a first baseman this year, befitting his 6’3” frame and reliable glove. Looking to follow up on his epic performance at the plate from last season, the left-handed power hitter will be counted on to be the backbone of the batting order for the Tigers. A formidable left-handed batter, Beer is a highly skilled on-base and power hitter and, as the most talented player in the nation, should be expected to carry the Tigers along their journey to the College World Series.

Pat Krall, a senior left-handed pitcher, became the first Clemson relief pitcher to be named an All-American last season. Like Beer, Krall has made a positional transition, becoming a starter for the Tigers this year. 

A talented left-handed hurler, Krall elected to return to the Tigers after being selected in the 28th Round of the most recent MLB Draft and could solidify himself as a future Major League starter if his play this season resembles his stellar 2016 performance.

Despite suffering a broken hand that will sideline him for the first four to six weeks of the season, catcher Chris Williams should be a prominent fixture in the Clemson lineup when he returns to the fray. With several clutch homers last year, Williams proved himself to be a premier hitter. Replacing former All-ACC catcher Chris Okey behind the dish will not be easy for new starter Williams, but the versatile backstop, who has experience playing first base as well, is primed to succeed.

Redshirt sophomore outfielder K. J. Bryant came on strong throughout this past season, proving to be a skilled defensive player and a commodity on the base path. 

Clemson head coach Monte Lee projected his continued ascension this season, saying during the offseason, “K. J. Bryant had a nice season for us and played a good bit versus left-handed pitching and could assume, possibly, a bigger role.”

Thus far, that has been the case, with Bryant embracing his starting role with open arms. As one of Clemson’s most versatile talents, Bryant will be a major asset for the Tigers in 2017.

Keeping it in the outfield, Clemson’s Reed Rohlman is poised to serve as a veteran leader for the Tigers this season. A junior outfielder, Rohlman was an All-American as a freshman and was solid as a sophomore, too. A key component behind Clemson’s 2016 ACC Tournament title, Rohlman has used his flashy play in the outfield and clutch hitting ability to become a noted fixture for the Tigers.

All in all, the Clemson Tigers are rife with talent this year and are definitely capable of reaching the College World Series. From the top to the bottom of the batting order and from the front end to the back end of the starting rotation, Clemson is highly skilled and features an excellent mixture of experience and youth that makes the Tigers’ present and future equally as bright. The aforementioned impact players, plus the multitudinous other Clemson players poised to accomplish great things this season, should make the 2017 baseball slate quite the experience in

Tiger Town.

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