Blue Jays: The forgotten legacy of Kacy Clemens
The Toronto Blue Jays minor league system has become a corps of notable legacy prospects. Many fans are well aware of the awe-inspiring talent of New Hampshire Fisher Cats Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Cavan Biggio. However, Kacy Clemens, son of former Toronto Blue Jay Roger Clemens, is often overlooked in discussions of the Blue Jays Legacy prospects.
The Blue Jays drafted Kacy Clemens in the eighth round of the 2017 Amateur players draft. Clemens was primarily a pitcher in his underclass years at the University of Texas before shifting focus to playing first base in his junior and senior year.
Kacy Clemens currently plays for the low A Lansing Lugnuts. The team started red-hot and has accumulated a great 17-9 record. Clemens, among others, has been a big reason for this success.
Clemens usually finds himself slotted in the three hole on the Lansing offence. An ideal spot for Clemens, he currently leads the low A Mid-West League in home runs with six. Currently, Clemens holds a HR/FB of 31.3% which may suggest an incoming regression, but the home run total is still impressive to this point.
Even more impressive than his home run total, Clemens is second in the league in walks (the Mid-West League walk leader is fellow Lugnut Ryan Noda). In 75 at-bats, Clemens has struck out just 18 times while walking 23 times. An incredible ratio, Clemens has proven early on that his knowledge of the strike zone is astounding.
Accumulating more walks than strikeouts is unheard of nowadays in baseball. The level of knowledge of the zone and ability to create a hitting plan at the plate is an advanced ability in any minor league baseball player. Interestingly, this advanced knowledge of hitting is present among the other legacies in New Hampshire, as well.
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The advanced knowledge of hitting and the zone is so impressive in a young prospect because it is a skill that is not likely to depreciate. While contact and power may change the higher the level of baseball a prospect achieves, good zone awareness and creating hitting plans will never diminish with an increased skill of the opposition.
Clemens has also shown that he has the ability to adjust and learn how to improve his hitting stroke. Last year for the short-league champion Vancouver Canadians, Clemens pulled the ball 51.1% of the time. However, this year Clemens has balanced his stroke to manage an even pull% and oppo% of 35.1%. The ability to hit to all areas of the field is an important quality of most greater hitters. As well, it is a further example of Clemens’ plate awareness.
By understanding how he is pitched and taking what he gets, he is spreading the ball around more and is focussed on making good contact, rather than pulling the ball for home runs. It seems this refined hitting mindset shifted Clemens away from a pull-happy, power-searching stroke, into a proper swing. As is often the case, he is projected to greatly surpass his previous power numbers with his HR/FB improving from 8% to 31.4%.
Clemens’ more balanced stroke has not only led to more gaudy numbers, but also an uptick in line drives (18.2%) and fly balls (29.1%). Overall, Clemens has managed a .307/.475/.613 with a great .492 wOBA and 199 wRC+.
It should also be noted that Clemens currently sits second in the Mid-West League in OPS (1.088), total bases (50)—just behind Ryan Noda’s 56, and RBI (23)—falling short of the league-leading 26 by Lansing teammate Kevin Smith.
Even if a power regression hits Clemens, his numbers still show great potential. The Blue Jays may decide to promote Clemens to the high A Dunedin Blue Jays if he continues to produce at this high level.
Next: Blue Jays: Projecting the lineup when Josh Donaldson returns
As a 23-year old former college player, conventional wisdom predicts a low ceiling. However, since this will be just his first full season exclusively as a first baseman, it is possible that he could develop farther than most college draftees. Regardless of his ceiling, it’s still fun to envision an all-legacy Blue Jays infield in the future.