Ernie Clement continues to silence the haters and annihilate minor league pitching
By Paul Taylor
When the Blue Jays signed Ernie Clement to a minor league deal back in March, it's fair to say fans were not particularly impressed. Whether it was critical comments about Clement specifically or the Jays' apparent general obsession with utility players, not much was expected from the signing.
It didn't help that the 27-year-old had accrued a poor .204/.261/.264 slash line through 109 career games at the Major League level. Not that expectations were high that he would even play in the Majors this year.
As such, Clement's early success in Triple-A has been both excellent and surprising to many. The Buffalo Bisons may well be struggling as a whole so far in 2023, but he certainly isn't.
Ernie Clement has been one of the Buffalo Bisons' best bats
Appearing in 29 of the Bisons' first 39 games, the Rochester, New York native leads the team in RBI as of May 14. He is also second in home runs, stolen bases and runs, as well as third in hits.
As a result, Clement has an excellent slash line of .315/.382/.523 and an OPS of .905. He is thriving in Buffalo and starting to make people take notice.
If the former Oakland Athletic can keep this type of production up, he will surely be in line for an opportunity with the Blue Jays at some point. Combining improved hitting with his defensive versatility certainly makes him a more valued commodity.
Critics will argue that producing with your bat at Triple-A is not the same as at the major league level. And they are quite right to mention this.
However, it is worth pointing out that prior to this season, Clement's Triple-A slash line in 57 career games was .261/.311/.419. While decent enough, this year's production shows how much he has
improved, again proving that he has earned a chance with the Blue Jays.
What will it take to receive a callup?
Of course, there are certain factors outside Clement's control in order to get this opportunity. Chief among these is the form of the Blue Jays, both collectively and on an individual level.
However, as long as 2017 fourth-round draft pick can remain consistent with his offense, he will get his chance sooner or later. And pending who gets injured for the Blue Jays, his aforementioned versatility only helps.
In this respect, Clement has experience in the majors of playing at first, second and third base, as well as shortstop and left field. He is also known for his energy, toughness and having good speed.
Ultimately, when and if Clement gets his opportunity with the Blue Jays remains to be seen. If nothing else, though, at least he has proven to be a more useful signing that first believed.