Green Dismissed, Other Observations From Clemson Baseball
Clemson head baseball coach Monte Lee and several players met with the media before their first full-team practice of 2020 on Friday to discuss a variety of subjects heading into a new season.
There are big names to replace and plenty of position battles to be settled between now and Feb. 14, when the Tigers open the season against Liberty.
Here five observations from what was said during media availability:
Michael Green’s dismissal a huge loss offensively
Lee announced at the end of his media session that Green, a redshirt junior who hit .307 in 2019, that Green was dismissed for a violation of team rules.
There was no other explanation given, but Green’s loss is a huge blow to an offense that already lost three key pieces in Logan Davidson, Grayson Byrd and Kyle Wilkie in the lineup.
Green, an outfielder, started 27 of the 28 games he played in and dealt with an injury in 2019. He recorded 26 runs scored, three home runs, eight doubles and 14 RBIs.
Green caught fire late last season, ending the year on a 14-game hit streak. He scored 18 of his runs during that stretch and was one of Clemson’s best hitters in the postseason.
Green likely would’ve hit near the top of the order and leaves yet another hole, this one unexpected, for Lee to fill.
Jacob Hennessy begins coaching career
The sad news that Hennessy, a pitcher who made six starts in 21 appearances last year, would no longer pitch at Clemson has turned into an opportunity for his future.
Hennessy said he’s going to work with the pitchers as a student assistant coach this season, and if it goes well, a career in coaching is something he could be interested in down the road.
Hennessy said he tore his UCL in the fall. The timing of it wouldn’t allow him to get back until next year, so the senior decided to hang it up at as a Tiger.
Also on the pitching injury front, junior LHP Ryne Huggins suffered an arm injury that will cost him this season.
Lee talked Friday like a coach who enters the practice season looking at a blank whiteboard. Clemson’s depth chart is about as undecided as you’ll find.
Lee has eight pitchers in mind for four starting rotation spots. He said he’s excited about not knowing how it’s going to play out and doesn’t have an idea right now of who he wants to see fill those roles.
The same goes for most of the infield and batting order. Davis Sharpe and Sam Weatherly are both two-way players who said they’ll play whatever positions the coaching staff decides.
This is going to be an important three weeks of practice before Feb. 14. What that opening day lineup looks like is anybody’s guess, including Lee’s.
Pitching could be the strength
While the offense is replacing 37 home runs from those three hitters mentioned above, it could take some time to figure out the offensive identity, although Clemson will likely play even more small ball than last year.
That means the pitching, which was a weakness a year ago, will have to be the strength this season. As surprising as it sounds, it should be. Sharpe and Mat Clark started a combined 25 games a year ago. Carson Spiers is back as the closer.
And the Tigers have some power arms this year. If Carter Raffield and Spencer Strider return healthy, both can get well into the 90s. Mack Anglin is one of a few freshmen Lee is excited about and offer more power at the pitching position.
Kier Meredith is healthy...finally
Meredith was highly recruited before he landed at Clemson before the 2018 season, and the Tigers are still waiting for him to break out.
His career has been derailed by injuries; Meredith has played in 21 career games. He hit .195 as a freshman and .307 as a sophomore.
The outfielder has the speed and bat to be a game changer, and he hopes this is the year he finally gets to make an impact.
Meredith said he had a quad injury last season that was tough to shake, but this year, he says he begins 100-percent healthy. With Clemson moving to more small ball and needing some leadership, his presence on the field is imperative.
He’s one of the most talented players on the roster. He’s got to play.