Posted by Jason A. Churchill on June 21, 2006
After fielding questions from the media, on three separate occasions, Seattle Mariners top prospect Jeff Clement made his Triple-A debut, going 1-for-4 with a flair single left and two strikeouts.
As unimpressive as the line looks, it was his first action since May 1 and all that was wrong was timing. The swing was sweet, his approach is very sound and he looks more than comfortable at the plate no matter what the count or situation.
In his first at-bat, Portland right-hander and former solid prospect in his own right Tim Stauffer got Clement behind in the count 0-2 on a swing-and-miss — a fastball in the upper portion of the zone on the inside half – and a foul ball. Clement worked it to 1-2 and fouled of two pitches down the left field line. But then watched an above average curve ball back door him on the outer half of the plate for a called strike three for the second out of the inning.
Clement's second AB came in the fourth inning with Tacoma leading 2-1. Clement again fell behind 0-2 and began to fight off tough pitches, finally working the count even at 2-2. Stauffer threw Clement three good breaking balls that Clement fouled off to prolong the at-bat.
On the second 2-2 pitch, Clement swung through a 91 mph fastball on the outer half to end the inning.
When Clement made his third trip the plate, the Rainiers were leading 5-1 on the strength of a 3-run blast by Adam Jones in the fifth. Clement, facing lefthander Eric Burke, took two balls outof the zone and then a heater on the corner for a strike. The 2-1 pitch was a fastball away that Clement poked softly into left field for a single, sending Guillermo Quiroz, who has walked to lead off the inning, safely to second base.
Tacoma did not score in the inning, thanks to the middle infield of Asdrubal Cabrera and Scott Youngbauer (Garciaparra out with a sore rib cage, eligible to come off DL tomorrow) striking out consecutively to end the threat.
In the 8th, facing former M's farmhand Aquilino Lopez, a righty, Clement was much more aggressive, swinging at the first two pitches. He fouled off the first and then popped to second on a fastball on the outer half.
He DH'd tonight and is expected to be eased back into catching regularly. He expects to catch a few days a week and ramp up, but on the days when he isn't catching, he'll DH about 90% of the time.
Bryan LaHair hit a line drive home run in the second to give the Rainiers a 2-0 lead and Shin-soo Choo had two more hits to raise his average to .290 on the year.
After the next four games, I'll have a better write-up for Clement and probably a scouting report that will include quotes from catching coordinator Roger Hansen, who is in town, and Clement's new hitting coach Terry Pollreisz, as well as Glenn Adams, the roving hitting instructor… oh, and Clement himself. He's a really pleasant dude.
Future Programming Note: I plan on getting some video of some of the top prospects in the coming days and if the baseball gods – and the internet gods – treat me right, I'll be able to publish that for all to view by the weekend.
I'm not sure how much in-game action I will be allowed to get as there are rules about this sort of thing, even with the media, but I plan on getting some BP and bullpen session type stuff, too.
Among those I am targeting are:
Clement, Jones, Cabrera, Snelling, Livingston, Nageotte, Cruceta, Choo, LaHair, Brown, Garciaparra and Johnson when he returns. If there is someone I am missing that you'd like to catch a glimpse of, please let me know.