2011 Prospect Watching: Hague, Plus Clement

 IMG_4573Jeff Clement  — Bats L / Throws R,  6′ 1″,  210 lb

One year ago, Clement was tapped to be the starting first baseman for the Pirates as the season opened.  But while the converted catcher was handling first base ok, he was struggling at the plate.  In early June, he was sent to Indianapolis, where he got his bat back on track over the next nearly two months.  He hit .286 over 19 games in June, with 4 homers and 17 RBI, then smacked .322 in July (21 games) with another 4 homers and 16 RBI.  Clement continued to do well at first base in Indianapolis (photo), and he also played just one game behind the plate, though the Pirates have said that they do not intend to have him catch.  
 When Clement returned to the Pirates at the end of July, he showed off the improvement at the plate, going 5-for-17 with 2 homers in  games.  But then he began to have knee problems again.  He went onto the DL, came back to Indy to rehab, then pulled his left oblique muscle.  The knee continued to be a problem, and by the end of August, he had yet another knee surgery and was done for the season.  When the season was over, the Pirates outrighted Clement to AAA Indianapolis.  Now, with Lyle Overbay and Garrett Jones covering first base in Pittsburgh and several other back-up options, the 27-year-old is getting squeezed out.  He could be headed to Indianapolis again for the 2011 season, but there he’s going to have to share time with Matt Hague, and maybe also Steve Pearce, if Pearce doesn’t succeed in his bid for a utility role with the Pirates.  While the Pirates have said that they aren’t ready to give up on Clement, they also aren’t giving up on Pearce, and that could make for a crowded situation in Indy.  

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