Daily Prospect Profile: Jeff Clement

A year ago today, Jeff Clement made a start for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It was his first start in over two months, after spending a lot of time in AAA.  Clement would only make two more starts before being placed on the disabled list with left knee irritation.  A later exam found a microfracture in his knee, which required surgery.  Over the off-season he was outrighted off the 40-man roster, and he missed all of Spring Training.  He’s only recently made his way back to the AAA level, where he is 6-for-13 in his first four games.

The knee injury certainly didn’t rob Clement of any playing time.  He played his way out of Pittsburgh last year, hitting for a .201/.237/.368 line.  The former catching prospect was moved to first base, which raised some concerns from Pirates fans about his defense.  The defense at first ended up fine, but the lack of hitting was the problem.  The hitting returned in AAA, when Clement hit for a .304/.337/.548 line with eight homers in 168 at-bats.

The former third overall pick from the 2005 draft was once one of the top prospects in the game.  He no longer qualifies as a prospect, but he still brings something to the table.  That something is power.  Despite his poor hitting in his 363 at-bat major league career, Clement has 14 homers.  His seven homers in 144 at-bats in 2010 was a pace for 27 homers in a 550 at-bat season.  That 20.57 AB/HR ratio would rank first on the current Pirates’ team, a team that lacks power.

Clement turns 28 on August 21st, and he’s had two shots at the majors, including a starting job with the Pirates last year.  You’re not likely to find many Pirates fans who would be willing to give him another chance.  His AAA numbers are encouraging, but that doesn’t translate over to major league success.  The key for Clement is walks.  His career .223 average isn’t ideal, but it would be passable if he could get on base at a .330 rate, and hit 25-30 homers a year.  That would almost make him a poor man’s Carlos Pena or Adam Dunn.  The power is there, but that’s all that we’ve seen in his short time in the majors.  The lack of walks, combined with some high strikeout numbers, is the difference between a poor man’s Pena and a AAAA player.

  • one factor to remember is that those “chances” were spread apart by multiple seasons… seattle gave him a short shot at a pretty young age and then banished him to AAA for multiple seasons before we finally got him… while in pittsburgh they had him altering his batting mechanics and learning a new position at the major league level which explains some of the struggles ( i’ve seen him play a bunch of times, he’s never looked as bad as he did in his short time with pittsburgh… he looked like a shell of his former self out there like someone trying to sign their name with the wrong hand ) … he’s a solid hitter and has never had trouble drawing walks in the minors

  • If the Bucs put Derek Lee on the DL, what are the chances the Pirates promote Jeff Clement over Matt Hague?  I would think that Hague would get the nod over Clement, but who knows.  I hope the Bucs let Clement finish out the season in Indy & bring up Hague in September (if not sooner) to see if he has a future in Pittsburgh.

  • I know he’s older, but how are those stats and different then what Pedro is doing? With the utter lack of power in the system how can he be discounted. Maybe he bombs or he at least is an inconsistent power hitter like Garrett Jones. I say let him play first in September and if he bombs release him. The worst thing the pirates could do is play Lee and Ludwick in September if they 12 games under .500 and they have no intention of bringing them back.

    • You offer good food for thought on someone I have completely given up on. He’s worth another look and unless he completely stinks it up, it should be prolonged.

  • Perhaps he was playing through the microfracture injury for some time and is only healthy now for the first time in years. Just a thought.