Thoughts on Jeff Clement

October 28, 2007

By Brett

Let me preface this first by saying I have no idea where this post is going. katal and I were just talking about Clement a bit today and I figured I’d write a little piece about him.

So I assume all of us know the story on Clement at this point. Number 3 overall in the 2005 draft, the left-handed power-hitting catcher was said to have the best raw power in the draft. He was drafted ahead of Troy Tulowitzki and Cameron Maybin. Many believe the Mariners messed this one up. I don’t agree. When talking to katal, he made a good point–the Twins were blasted for taking Joe Mauer over Mark Prior. How’s that one working out now? I’m not saying Clement’s going to be the next Mauer, only that sometimes it takes more than a few years to see who truly won in the draft.

Mariner Catching prospect Jeff Clement.--MLB.com

Early in the year Clement seemed to disappoint much of the Mariner Blogosphere. Dave Cameron over at U.S.S. Mariner noted earlier this year that a lot of Clement’s success came off of soft-tossing left-handers and that his bat speed may be cause for concern. After Clements first few ABs in the big leagues, I saw what he was saying. Clement’s first AB was against Jose Vizcaino of the Yankees, which ended in a strikeout. However, I still came away impressed. Jeff worked the count well, and only swung at pitches in the strike zone. He didn’t chase anything, despite fanning on a 91 MPH fastball in the zone. I thought there that maybe there was some validity to the claims of slow bat speed. But Clement managed to turn on a 91MPH Joe Borowski offering to tie the game vs. Cleveland, and what I believe was 93MPH off the Texas right-hander who surrendered his 2-run walk off blast. I don’t remember who served it up, because Red and I were too busy freaking out and doing the Rally Jig, but I remember it was a legitimate bomb on a cold, heavy-aired Seattle night. The blogosphere’s opinion on him seemed to change overnight, and though I always thought Clement would be good, watching him made me a fan, and I’m firmly on the Clement bandwagon. He cemented himself as my favorite Mariner prospect.

Also, we have to remember Clement had a torn meniscus in his left knee and had bone chips removed from his left elbow in his first full year in the system. I’m sure these injuries coupled with his overly-aggressive promotion to Tacoma stunted his development a little bit. The injury woes didn’t stop there for Clement, however. Mike Morse tagged him with a bat in his left middle finger in spring training this year. X-Rays were negative, but it could explain his slow start a little bit if he had trouble gripping the bat. I’m absolutely 100% confident that Clement’s bat speed will improve and he’ll raise his OPS from his .867 mark in AAA last year. I have almost nothing to back this up, it’s just a gut feeling. Clement will be knocking on the door by June, and if the Mariners are smart they’ll trade Kenji and let the Jeff Clement era begin by then. I know that’s a bit aggressive, but Clement will be ready.

My totally random, emotions based Crystal ball for Clement’s 2008 would be something like a .264/.338/.444 line with maybe 22 HR. It’s about the same offense Kenji will give you with admittedly worse defense. But by June I’m sure he’ll have nothing to prove in Tacoma and will deserve a promotion. I see Clement’s ceiling as a .275/.365/.535 type hitter who may knock out 30-35 homers with one or two 40 homer seasons in there. Safeco should help his home run totals, as it is designed for left-handed power hitters, and Clement is just that.

So I guess my assessment would be that Clement could probably perform in the big leagues today, but it would serve him well to play another half-season in Tacoma. Clement is absolutely on my untouchable list if I’m the GM, and he should be a big contributor for years to come. His hot September wasn’t a fluke. I don’t know what makes me feel this way, but Jeff Clement is the real deal.


One comment

  1. Dude Jeff has the same last name as me that is coolio call me
    dude u are awsoome get a homer 4 me!

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