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Baseball impact players: Looking ahead: Tigers will have to replace several key players, look to young talent

After a disappointing loss in the Regionals last year, the Clemson Tigers have retooled their lineup. Chris Okey, Weston Wilson and Eli White have all left the program to pursue their futures in professional baseball. The departures have left some large holes to fill, but Head Coach Monte Lee made some moves in the offseason to help smooth the transition.

Okey, Wilson and White were three of Clemson’s top six bats and best veteran players, but now it is time for other players to take their spots and adopt a similar approach to the football team: “Next man up.”

Returning for his senior year, Pat Krall has a heavy load to bear as the Tigers’ No.1 pitcher. Mainly used out of the bullpen last season, Krall owned a 1.67 ERA in 29 appearances, including a couple of starts, but will more than likely be a starting weekend pitcher this season. As the first Tiger to ever lead the team in both wins and saves, Krall means a lot to this staff of young, but talented pitchers. 

The 6’6” lefty turned down an offer from the St. Louis Cardinals to return for his senior season, and hopefully a longer run into the postseason. Krall isn’t the only gifted pitcher on this team, but he has the most experience and has pitched in the toughest circumstances. 

Even though he is only a sophomore, Seth Beer is going to be the leader and anchor of the lineup. He had 18 home runs last year along with a .369 average and 70 RBIs (runs batted in). Beer is the only returning player to have batted more than .300 and slugged higher than .500, which makes him the only reliable power hitter on the team. 

Beer will only be better in year two of his tenure as a Tiger. He will be changing his position, though, in an effort to improve his defense. Instead of manning right field, Beer will move to first base and Chris Williams will take over as starting catcher. It shouldn’t be too difficult of a transition for him because he played the position in high school as well.

A freshman who could prove to be a very important piece of the puzzle is infielder Logan Davidson. He won Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior, as well as being an All-American, and was drafted in the 30th round by the Philadelphia Phillies this past summer. He will still have to compete with transfer Grayson Byrd, but it wouldn’t be too shocking if they shared time at shortstop.

Mitchell Miller will also be one to watch this year. A freshman who de-committed from Mississippi State due to coaching changes, Miller was contacted by Clemson almost as soon as he announced it. Listed as the No. 273 draft prospect by Baseball America, Miller chose to go to college and play for the Tigers instead. A lefty with a five-pitch repertoire, Miller could seriously compete to be a late weekend starter. 

“I’m a power guy, I guess. I topped out at 94 this year. I sit 90-92, touching 93 and I topped out at 94. I like to work quick. I’m an up-tempo guy,” Miller said about his skillset. 

Perfect Game, a baseball prospect ratings and news website, rated Miller as a 10, which means he is considered an elite college prospect. If Miller ends up being a weekend starter, the Tigers will have a solid starting pitching corps to lean on in the early season. 

Lee has assembled a solid core of young players to complement the already proven group of veterans in front of them. With some freshman competing for starting spots right away and the positional holes being filled, Clemson will be able to compete out of the gate. 

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