Twins Add Former Prospect Jeff Clement

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Minnesota took a step towards potentially adding some power to their lineup this week, signing first baseman Jeff Clement to a minor league deal, according to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. The former catcher and former top prospect will come to Spring Training with the hopes of winning a spot off the Twins’ bench. Clement was once viewed as one of the premier power-hitting prospects in baseball, setting national high school home run records before ranking among Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects three times after being drafted 3rd overall in 2005 out of the University of Southern California.

Former prospect Jeff Clement signed with the Twins this week, potentially earning him another chance at hitting at the Major League level. (Image Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)

Yet, despite the hype, the 29 year old has yet to put things together in multiple stints in the Major Leagues. Across 421 plate appearances with the Seattle Mariners and Pittsburgh Pirates, Clement has hit just .218/.277/.371 with 14 HR and 39 RBI. He’s looked over matched, been prone to a high strikeout rate (roughly once in every four plate appearances), and he’s been a liability defensively.

Clement rocketed through the minor leagues, reaching Triple-A by his second season professionally. In 2,504 plate appearances over the past 8 seasons, Clement’s hit a collective .282/.361/.493 with 92 HR and 378 RBI. The power production that many expected when he was drafted has failed to translate, however, at least in terms of the long ball up to this point. He’s only twice topped (or equaled) the 20 HR mark in the minors, significant mainly because of his pedigree. Clement set the national high school record for home runs, with 75 over his four years at Marshalltown High. He was then a standout catcher in college, leading to high expectations when the Mariners drafted him.

His future with the Twins remains uncertain. Clement is now relegated to first base mainly due to his inability to stick behind the plate defensively. He’s yet to develop into the home run hitter that most expected, though the potential may still be there. Bollinger continued to speculate that Clement may be in the mix for the Twins at first base, particularly if the team ends up moving Justin Morneau sometime this winter, as he’d likely compete with Chris Parmalee for playing time. He’s spent the past seven seasons at Triple-A, batting .276/.340/.486 last year, and there’s little left to prove at the level.