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3 Clemson players to watch in 2024

Aralynn Minnick
Head coach Erik Bakich believes sophomore outfielder Cam Cannarella will be an essential piece of the Tigers’ success this season.

The Clemson baseball team entered the 2023 season looking for something to prove. Team 126 was headlined by the hiring of head coach Erik Bakich and a roster full of unknowns filled with potential.

After forty-four wins, an ACC Championship and a home regional later, it is safe to say that the expectation is higher this spring. Despite losing assets such as Caden Grice, Cooper Ingle and Billy Amick to the major leagues and transfer portal, the hype remains real at Doug Kingsmore Stadium this time around.

With a roster that includes many fresh faces and solid veterans, here are three players to watch this spring:

Cam Cannarella, sophomore OF, #10

The Hartsville, South Carolina, native was Clemson’s most pleasant surprise when he began his career on a 14-game hitting streak and never looked back.

Despite never playing center fielder prior to his collegiate debut, Cannarella made his presence quickly known. The speedster was a reliable .388 at the plate, leading the Tigers in hits, runs and triples with 97, 72 and 3, respectively.

Expectations are high for Clemson’s leadoff hitter, ranking as the No. 1 college prospect for the 2025 draft by Baseball America. Cannarella looks to propel the Tigers to even higher heights with a year of experience now under his belt.

Rob Hughes, graduate RHP, #48

Hughes, a bullpen-reliever, gives a veteran presence in the locker room as he enters his sixth year of collegiate baseball. Joining Clemson after Furman discontinued its baseball program in 2020, the reliever’s return from injury played a major role in starting a 17-game win streak last season.

Whenever the Tigers were in a squeeze, it was easy for pitching coach Jimmy Belanger to call Hughes’ name. Hughes limited opponents to a .143 batting average with runners in scoring position, speaking to his composure in tight situations. If anyone is ready for a deep run this season, it’s Hughes.

Jacob Jarrell, sophomore catcher, #9

Jarrell is the only returner with experience as a catcher, leaving him with big shoes to fill as the replacement for Cooper Ingle. Despite a .208 average, the sophomore showed flashes of potential, appearing in 35 games last season.

Jarell stepped up when it mattered most last season, adding a huge pinch-hit two-RBI single against then-No. 2 Wake Forest and a grand slam vs. then-No. 8 Coastal Carolina. Known as one of the hardest workers on the team, look for Jarrell to make a splash this spring.

Team 127 looks to make their first College World Series appearance since 2010. With the words “Omaha” spelled on the back of their hats, that standard remains every season.

The Tigers’ road to their desired destination begins Feb. 16 at Doug Kingsmore in a three-game homestand versus Xavier.

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Patrick Driscoll
Patrick Driscoll, Senior Reporter
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