#21 Clemson Baseball Preview

Clemson Tigers

Overall Rank: #21
Conference Rank: #4 ACC
Clemson College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Clemson Tigers take the field in 2013 with a bit of a younger, more inexperienced team but are still very talented. The Tigers return just four position players; however, they also return three starting pitchers, led by Daniel Gossett.  Gossett should help the team early in season while the rest of the lineup comes together by the time the ACC schedule rolls around. The home field environment of Doug Kingsmore Stadium is one of the best in college baseball, and in 2013 it should be another electric environment that makes the Tigers tough to deal with at home.

2012: 35-28, 16-14
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jack Leggett

Field Players:
Senior outfielder Thomas Brittle and junior infielder Steve Wilkerson will be the anchors of the Tiger offense. Brittle hit. 298 in 2012, drove in 36 and stole an impressive 15 bases so his versatility to hit for average, drive in runs and speed are very dangerous for opposing teams. Wilkerson is the leading returner in hits with 76 and runs with 49. Thus, his ability to consistently get on base will be very important to the overall success of the Clemson Tiger offense. First baseman Jon McGibbon supplies the power as he hit five homeruns in 2012 and, if he can bump those numbers that will only make life even more of a challenge for opponents.

Daniel Gossett and Kevin Pohle lead the trio of returning starting pitchers for Coach Leggett. Gossett was 6-3 with a 4.32 earned run average in 2012 along with holding opponents to a .221 batting average in 77 innings of pitching.  Pohle will most likely be either the Friday night or Saturday starter.  Pohle was 7-4, with a 3.66 earned run average last season.  And a big key for his success in 2013 will be to balance out the walks to strikeouts a little bit more. In 2012 Pohle walked 32 and struck out 40.  If he can get those numbers closer to a 2 to1 ratio that will be huge for Clemson. In the pen, Scott Firth will be the closer as he had three saves and was 4-0 with a 2.09 earned run average and was very tough on batters, holding them to a .229 batting average.

Who to Watch:
The keys to this incoming freshman class in regard to immediate impact will start with position players such as Tyler Krieger. Krieger was drafted in the 35th round of the MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners and he will be expected to complete for playing time early. Jackson Campana is a third baseman and pitcher who could provide depth on the mound as well as be in the mix at third base with his ability to hit and play defense. At 6-6, 200 lbs., he should be close to college ready and be physically able to fill both roles for Coach Leggett.

Final Projection:
The schedule, as always, will be a gauntlet for Clemson. A Palmetto State showdown against South Carolina in early March will set the tone for the Tigers to see where they are on the national landscape. The first two ACC Conference series are also going to be very important as playing in Raleigh against North Carolina State is never easy and hosting Virginia will be a test as the Cavaliers always seem to battle Clemson very tough no matter where they play.  Also, road trips to North Carolina and Florida State will be a huge test as well. Offensively, the Tigers need to be better in 2013.  Hitting .269 as a team with only one player batting over. 300 just won’t cut it.  Clemson needs to generate more offense whether it is from veterans like Wilkerson and Brittle or young players like Krieger and Campana.  Pitching wise, if they can back Gossett with solid defense and production from the number two and three slots on weekends, the Tigers should be in better shape come regional play. Overall, the Tigers should again be in the mix for a Regional hosting bid and safely in the upper half of the always difficult Atlantic Coast Conference.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Steve Wilkerson, IF, 258
Hits: Steve Wilkerson, IF, 76
Home Runs: Jon McGibbon, IF, 5
RBIs: Thomas Brittle, OF, 36
Runs: Steve Wilkerson, OF, 49
Stolen Bases:  Thomas Brittle, OF, 15

Wins: Kevin Pohle, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Daniel Gossett, P, 77.0
Strikeouts: Daniel Gossett, P, 87
Saves: Scott Firth, P, 3

Madness 2013 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#34 Clate Schmidt


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