After spending the first seven years of his career with the Houston Astros, Koby Clemens, son of seven-time Cy Young winner Roger, will join another one of his father’s former franchises, as the 25-year-old signed a Minor League contract with the Blue Jays earlier this afternoon.
While the younger Clemens, an infielder, won’t follow in his father’s legendary footsteps on the mound, he does represent an interesting signing for the Jays–and not because of his bloodlines.
An eighth-round pick by the Astros in 2005, Clemens stormed out of the gate in rookie ball during his first professional season before cooling off in back-to-back A-ball seasons from 2006-07. He broke out in a big way during the 2009 season in the extremely hitter-friendly California League, when he repeated the High-A level and smacked 45 doubles and 22 home runs to along with a .345 average and 121 RBIs in 116 games.
Though his batting average dropped 100 points the following year in Double-A, Clemens managed to finish the 2010 campaign with 22 doubles, 26 home runs and a .825 OPS. It was good enough to earn him a promotion to Triple-A this past season, where he once again failed to make consistent contact but displayed extra-base power with 21 doubles and 16 home runs.
Clemens has never been gifted defensively and has made his way around the diamond as a result. Drafted as a third baseman, he made 67 errors in his first three seasons (215 games) before being converted to catcher from 2008-09. After that experiment, the Astros opted to have him play primarily first base the last two years. In addition to first and third base, Clemens also manned left field in 2011.
When Clemens became a Minor League free agent this winter, the Astros opted not to re-sign him, in which the Blue Jays and a handful of other clubs decided to take a look at him. Given the Jays’ lack of depth at first and third base, it’s easy to see why he chose Toronto, and the slugger is apparently excited for a fresh start in a new organization.
“I’ve pretty much trained myself to be ready for anything. If I need to be play third, first, outfield and catching, I’ve been keeping up with everything. Just all hands on deck. Whatever kind of role they need me to play I’m going to do it, as long as I can get my bat in the lineup. That’s kind of the approach I’m going with,” Clemens said in an interview with My FOX Houston.
Though he’ll likely be sent to Triple-A Las Vegas, Clemens also mentioned in the article that the Blue Jays have told him that he’ll be trying to make either the Double-A or Triple-A roster.
If he joins the 51s in Vegas, he would give manager Marty Brown a right-handed option at first base to complement the left-handed hitting David Cooper, who will receive the bulk of the playing time. Given the absence of Brett Lawrie, Jayson Nix and Chris Woodward, though, it wouldn’t be surprising if Clemens turns out to be the 51s’ Opening Day third baseman. Regardless of what position he plays, the power numbers that he has recently shown make him an intriguing acquisition, especially with hitting coach Chad Mottola available in Vegas to help him.
If Clemens join the Double-A Fisher Cats instead, it will likely be as their everyday first baseman in case Mike McDadeis promoted. Even if McDade opens the year once again with New Hampshire, though, Clemens would still get a considerable amount of playing time at a variety of positions