The arrival of spring ushers in excitement, but for several former Clemson Tigers, March means much more than the beginning of spring: It’s a chance to prove themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for Major League Baseball Spring Training.
Whether in sunny Arizona or Florida, several ex-Clemson standouts are taking to the field for their respective MLB organizations this spring. Colorado outfielder Tyler Colvin (2004-06), Arizona pitcher Tony Sipp (2001-04), Texas infielder Jeff Baker (2002-04) and Seattle pitcher D.J. Mitchell (2006-08) are all veteran Major Leaguers who will be carrying the Clemson mantle during spring training.
Likewise, some former Tigers who have been competing in the Minor Leagues are working to achieve their dreams of playing on baseball’s biggest stage and getting their chance to impress in spring training.
Former Clemson quarterback and baseball right fielder Kyle Parker (2007-10) was a non-roster invitee to the Colorado Rockies’ camp. Selected as the No. 26 overall pick of the 2010 MLB Draft, the Rockies have big dreams for Parker.
Last season was a breakout year for Parker, who helped power single-A Modesto while being named a 2012 Minor League All-Star by Baseball America. Hampered by injuries throughout the season, Parker still hit .308 with 23 home runs, 18 doubles, six triples, and 73 RBIs in 102 games.
MLB.com currently ranks Parker as Colorado’s No. 7 prospect, and he will spend the rest of this month in Scottsdale, Ariz., competing for a spot on the Rockies’ roster.
Like Parker, ex-Tiger shortstop Brad Miller (2008-11) is making big strides out West. After being named the ACC Player of the Year in 2011, Miller was drafted in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners.
After a strong first year, Miller played for Seattle’s advanced single-A affiliate, the High Desert Mavericks, in Adelanto, Calif., last year. Miller hit .339 with 11 home runs, 56 RBIs and 19 stolen bases with the Mavericks.
After being named to the California League All-Star game, Miller was promoted to the Mariner’s double-A affiliate, the Jackson Generals. In 40 games with Jackson, Miller hit .320 with a .882 OPS.
MLB.com ranks Miller as the Mariners’ No. 8 prospect. Traveling to Peoria, Ariz., Miller is taking part in Seattle’s spring training.
Former Clemson first/third baseman Richie Shaffer (2009-12), the star of last year’s team, appears to be on track for success after his first year in the minor leagues. Selected as the No. 25 overall pick of the 2012 MLB Draft, Shaffer played with the Hudson Valley Renegades, Tampa’s short-season single-A affiliate.
In his first season, Shaffer hit .308 with 26 RBIs and 4 home runs. MLB.com ranks Shaffer the No. 9 prospect in the Rays’ franchise.
An integral part of Clemson’s 2010 College World Series team, second baseman Mike Freeman (2007-10) is still the gritty player that made him a beloved Tiger at Clemson. An 11th-round pick by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2010 MLB Draft, Freeman has slowly worked his way through the Arizona farm system.
Last season Freeman played with the Visalia Rawhide, Arizona’s advanced single-A affiliate. Hitting .309 with three home runs and 59 RBIs, Freeman was a consistent player for the Rawhide.
A speed demon on the bases, Freeman stole 30 bases out of 34 attempts. This year, Freeman is anticipating a move to Arizona’s double-A team in Mobile, Ala.
Glover and Stanley finish strong. At the PGA Honda Classic held in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., two of Clemson’s legendary golfers put on an incredible performance this past week.
Lucas Glover (1998-01) and Kyle Stanley (2006-09) both looked to be unstoppable on the greens, playing with confidence down the stretch on
At the conclusion of the final round Sunday afternoon, Glover’s even-par performance in the final round held him firmly at 3-under 277 and in a tie for fourth, his first top-10 finish since his 2011 win at the Wells Fargo Championship. Hampered by injuries through much of 2012, Glover’s performance at the Honda Classic showed the former All-American is back on track to becoming one of golf’s most successful players.
For Stanley, his tournament concluded on Sunday at even-par 280. His finish put him squarely in a tie for 18th, by far his best performance of 2013. Stanley’s 18th place performance was his best at a since winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open last year. Although only in his fourth year as a professional, Stanley is quickly rising through the PGA rankings.
Next week, the Tiger duo will not be participating in the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande, choosing instead to enjoy a week of rest.