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Clement’s Debut

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.

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33 Responses to “Clement’s Debut”

  1. Dave Cairns said

    Looking forward to this stuff Jason sound s like an iteresting addition.

    It would be good to see some stuff on things like the gear these guys use and what they are like off the field as well.

    BTW, can you give us a quick run down on the sort of money the different minor league levels are making after signing bonuses i.e. once they are on the field ?

    Thanks heaps

    Dave

  2. willmore2000 said

    Great job, Jason. I would love to see those videos. Any chance of getting some from lower levels as well ? I am particularly intersted in seeing Balentien, Lowe, Kahn, Feieraben, Rohrbaugh, well, you get the idea – the more, the better.

  3. Well, since I am 1000+ miles from San bernie, and twice that from San Antone, no, i wont be getting video of those guys.

  4. willmore2000 said

    Oh well. Maybe some day you’ll find some guy who take the videos in those places and send them to you. Maybe you could ask some scout, in return for, I dunno, a dinner or something. In any case, great job.

  5. The way I see it, when these guys get past SA and IE, they have to come thru Tacoma at some point… if they don’t 99% of the time it’ll be because they aren’t that good anyways.

  6. Erik said

    I’d like to see some of Robert Rohrbaugh if you could. He’s a hometown fav from hear in Southern PA and I haven’t seen him pitch since high school. It would be great to see how he’s progressing. Thanks!!

  7. slim said

    The M’s need a DH in 2007 (and 2006)… Half a season in AAA and Clement will be ready for the job. Yeah, I know it’ll stunt his catching growth. He can be Snelling’s AAA injury insurance next season.

  8. Salty Dog said

    Tacoma will be very, very interesting to watch for the rest of the year. That’s a lot of good young talent.

    Video would be awesome.

  9. Swerv said

    Jason,
    I was able to get to the game last night. That place was empty.
    I agree with you Clements’ swing is very nice, it looks very short

    On Adam Jones, I had never seen him in person and the first thing I thought was, man he needs to fill out his frame…but man did he hit that 3 run HR a LONG LONG way.

    Lastly, you need to have prospectinsider t-shirts…I was trying to figure out who you were. (there was not alot of people to pick from. Were you sitting in the booth upstairs? or with the 6 or 7 scouts?

  10. Marinerhomer said

    The Tacoma lineup is very interesting now, you have guys at every spot in the order that have either been with the Mariners or will be in the next couple of years.

    Jason, I wouldn’t mind seeing video of Quiroz and possible Baek.

  11. germpod said

    I would wear a prospectinsider.com shirt.

  12. Scruffy Lefty said

    Jason question about Tui

    I heard from someone that if he wasn’t playing in the bigs in 3 years that he was going to go back to football any truth to that?

  13. Jerry said

    Jason,

    I wouldn´t mind seeing something for the guys in Everett: Uhlmanseik, Halman, Gaterol, Lo, Schilling, Dickey, Dilone, etc.

    The AquaSox have some interesting players this year. I am especially looking forward to seeing more on their OFers. Seems like there are some bats with potential.

    Plus, the commute is a little easier than San Antonio or Peoria.

    For people intersted in seeing video and scouting info on M´s prospects, take a look at http://www.calleaguers.com. There are video clips for a lot of guys, although most of those players are now in Tacoma or San Antonio. They should have information up on guys who played in Inland Empire some time this year.

  14. ShipHimToDetroit said

    *lightbulb*

    Instead of begging Churchill for video clips, why don’t the ProspectInsider faithful from Texas and Wisconsin and SoCal offer to take video of these prospects and send them to Churchill. That’d be more useful for everyone, I think.

  15. StandinPat said

    Cant wait to see more of Clement, but Im also really excited about LaHair’s progress, and Uhlmanseik being lights out in his first appearnece in pro ball.

  16. I will get some from Everett as well, yeah. thanks for the names, Jerry.

  17. 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.

    Interesting. I suppose I should probably pay a little more attention to such rules, if they exist for still photography. But, until then, I’m going to keep posting subsets of the pix I take at games, like the ones I shot last night.

    Including (but not limited to):

    Lahair’s HR Bat Flip

    Clement’s ankle-twisting power strikeout swing

    Yoda/Doyle/Snelling’s skyward gazings in center field

    etc…

    (Provided, of course, this post sneaks past the JAC’s mod-queing, with all the links & stuff)

    Church — did you sneak a peak at Clement warming up the pitcher a few times? I snapped a few shots of that, too. Obviously it’s waaaay different than a game situation, but it’s all I got for right now. He did trap a low one pretty decently.

    It may not be video, but I can snap 5+ FPS stills of pitching motions and swings (depending on lighting, of course). I’ve got several sequences of Baek last night, and I can convert ’em into Flash as needed.

    Not sure the rules on this, so you can e-mail me offline if I’m in trouble 😉

    Oh, yeah, and I, too, tried making faces at you in the booth, but since I still have no idea what ya look like, and I couldn’t post here on my PDA-phone (Darn Palm OS!), alas…

  18. MatthewCarruth said

    Maybe I missed it, but do we know where Morrow is going to start?

  19. Inland Empire. Instead of a tune up in Everett, he’s tuning up in Peoria as we speak.

    He’s probably loving that heat. LOL.

    Nah, yer fine Paul. I think i have the link limit at four or five, not sure. You can put up as many as ya like… if it’ ever 5+, lemme know, I’ll sneak it through.

    Yeah, Clement between innings… they only have two catchers in house, with Hunter Brown the emergency guy.

  20. Deanna said

    Hunter Brown catching? I want to see that 🙂

    I like the list of players you’ve got there, looking forward to reading/seeing stuff.

    I’m actually trying to get up to the Aquasox game today and the Rainiers tomorrow; I’ll have my camera, but dunno how much I’ll be focusing on taking pictures, we’ll see. Very much looking forward to seeing three of my favorite M’s minorleaguers (Brown, Snelling, and Clement) all at the same place, though… with some Leone on the side!

  21. Leo may be taking tomorrow off… hope you dont miss him.

  22. Seth said

    Okay Jason, now that Jeff “Matt” Clement (I still can’t believe their website could screw up like that) is at AAA a little sooner than expected do you think this pushes his arival date to the bigs up too? Is there any chance that either Clement or Snelling could be the DH on Opening Day 2007?

  23. I dont think there is a chance in hell that Clement starts at DH for the M’s in 2007. But late down the stretch in ’07, you sure could see his bat come in and DH some to help a contending team.

    I just don’t know if that’s going to be 1) possible this year, from Clement’s standpoint and 2) if the M’s will even be close in August and September.

    Snelling could very well be this team’s DH when the club returns from the all-star break, so yeah, he could be the LF/DH in 07… sure.

    I don’t think this pushes Clement’s ETA in the bigs any further along. He’s not going to be a regilar 25-man roster member until he can CATCH regularly. But like i said above, for a month and a half in a pennant race? Absolutely, if he can help, he’ll get that call.

    But he’d likely return to AAA next April to continue learning to catch.

    He caught in Tacoma tonight and while he didn’t get a chance to block a stray pitch or throw a runner out, he looked pretty comfortable back there.

    To be honest, his movements are smoother than that of Rob Johnson, though Johnson is further along in his defensive development, is more athletic and throws better. Clement’s not as far behind in terms of receiving skills as he was when spring began.

  24. StandinPat said

    So I keep hearing varying opinions on Clements defense and if it will be a liability behind the plate. Everyone raves about his work ethic, but I’ve heard his throwing arm is below average at best. Any thoughts or comments jason?

  25. JasonAChurchill said

    His arm strength is at least average, his only issues there are about technique and balance and things of that nature.

    He looked better back there last night than I anticipated. He wasn’t dropping balls, and seemed very balanced in his squat.

    He didn’t have to throw to second on a steal attempt or make any outstanding plays, so I didn’t get to see him in real action other than receiving.

  26. MatthewCarruth said

    What’s your take on Mike Wilson?

  27. Yakkob said

    How come everyone is always mentioning Mike Wilson? What’s so special about him?

  28. Replacement level poster said

    Hey Church,

    I’m going to the Eugene Emeralds vs Spokane Indians tomorrow. Since its low A outside of the Mariners org I’m not sure if you know of anyone to keep my eye on at the game, but thought I’d ask just in case.

  29. Yakkob — because Wilson put up really good numbers in high A ball and has started off well in AA. If he continues to produce in San Antonio, I’m gonna have to start asking about him more.

    But, I still don’t believe in his bat — and his bat is all he has.

    Overall, he’s somewhat interesting – kind of like Balentien. Has some eye-opening tools but has a lot of holes. With Wilson, his holes are in his work ethic, track record and rate of progress. But he may be turning a corner at 23.

  30. Replacement Level Poster:

    The first guy that comes to mind is Padres’ first rounder Matt Antonelli out of Wake Forest. He’s a third baseman, pretty athletic, may move quickly. He’ll probably start for Eugene.

    For Spokane… Kasey Kiker, the Rangers first rounder (12th overall), is a good looking lefthander out of Russell County, Alabama. Really good stuff, though he’s a bit undersized.

    And Peperdine catcher Chad Tracy, the Rangers’ third rounder on this year’s draft, is a strong offensive catcher.

    Those three players are legit prospects, all from this year’s draft.

  31. Replacement level poster said

    Thanks very much, I’ll keep an eye on them.

  32. Hi Jason,
    It’s been a while. Sure appreciate your great work. It’s something I look forward to, having our own guy doing the homework on the kids we would like to do.
    I wonder if anyone can come close to the quality of defense Jojima has provided and could provide for the M’s the next five years or so. With Rob Johnson in the wings …..why wouldn’t they try to find another position for Clement? Seems like they got him for his bat and secondly for his potential behind the plate.
    Your thoughts.
    Don

  33. MatthewCarruth said

    Don,

    because Jeff’s bat is SO much more valuable coming from behind the plate, because Johjima is only signed through for the next 2 years, and because it’s much easier to go sign a great hitting CO or 1B than it is to get a good hitting catcher. This is one of the places the Ms strategy makes sense. Keep the guys at their most valuable positions as long as possible. Figure out where to move them when they’re knocking down AAA or when they’re development is being hindered.

  34. StandinPat said

    If Clement can be average with the glove, he’s a legit silver slugger at the Catcher position, and thats why you leave him there. Even average corner outfield prospects can usually outhit all but maybe 5% of catching prospects. It basically comes down gettig the most out of your lineup. Which is better Offensivley, Clement in LF and Johnson at C, or Clement at C and Choo in LF. Hands down Choo is a better offensive prospect than Johnson, and Choo would be way better in left than Clement.

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