Clemson baseball has greatly benefited from addition of transfers

Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; General view of logo before the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; General view of logo before the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Clemson Tigers are currently well on their way to the College World Series, sporting a top-five national ranking and an impressive 29-5 record. What makes this season’s team so interesting, though, is how integral transfers have been in helping the Tigers garner that high level of success.

Related Story: Clemson starting pitching breakdown

Not normally a program to accept a sizable amount of transfers when Jack Leggett was at the helm, the Tigers have thrived by way of the transfer process under head coach Monte Lee. While the Tigers lost their fair share of veteran talent from last year’s ACC Tournament-winning team, their success this year has been met with a tinge of surprise nationally. The primary reason for that is that several of Clemson’s main contributors this year were not exactly on the radar prior the start of the season and have come on strong to entrench themselves as key competitors for Clemson. More specifically, former transfers have settled in at Clemson and played really well.

Previously a slugger for Golden West College on the West Coast, Chris Williams made the interesting decision a few years ago to depart his home state of California and play for Clemson. After the graduation of mainstay catcher Chris Okey, Williams solidified himself in the build-up of this season as the go-to guy behind the plate. Despite suffering a preseason hand injury that caused him to miss seven games, Williams never missed a beat upon returning. A talented defensive player, Williams has displayed acumen in both catching and manning first base during his two years at Clemson, and his .295 batting average this season indicates that he is not too shabby at the plate, either.

Coming into the 2017 slate, there were a multitude of questions surrounding Clemson’s starting rotation, mostly due to a glaring lack of experience in that department. Therefore, the addition of redshirt senior Tyler Jackson helped answer some of those questions. A valued member of the Tigers’ four-man rotation, Jackson has brought his veteran experience as a pitcher at USC Upstate to Clemson and has excelled thus far, winning five of eight starts.

Though he has been entrenched as a key Tiger for a while now, it is worth recalling that Pat Krall transferred to Clemson following a stint at Temple. Making the smooth transition from being an All-American reliever to an ace starter, Krall has become the heart and soul of the Tigers’ rotation this year, which is evinced by his flawless 6-0 record.

More from Rubbing the Rock

The X factor for the Tigers in 2017 has arguably been middle infielder Grayson Byrd. A spark plug, the LSU transfer came out of nowhere at the start of the year to become one of the Tigers’ most reliable hitters. Recently, in the Georgia Tech series, Byrd was the leading man in two of Clemson’s games, showcasing his ability to successfully lead a batting order. Hitting .307 with 27 hits thus far, Byrd has been a pivotal cog in the Tigers’ lineup.

Another solid transfer is Weston Jackson, a redshirt senior who, like Tyler Jackson, used his final year of eligibility gained through a redshirt year to become immediately eligible after transferring to Clemson this season. A slap-hitting outfielder from Presbyterian, Jackson has proved to be a valuable commodity both in the starting lineup and off of the bench this year and currently sports a .360 slugging percentage. Lately, Jackson has been called upon for pinch-hitting duties, as he is just the type of dangerous hitter needed in a tight late-game situation. A defensive specialist, as well, Jackson has been a star for the Tigers in every facet thus far in 2017.

If not for the transfer market, Clemson’s season would be entirely different right now. While Coach Lee has never publicly addressed his tendency to look to transfers to aid his team, he certainly has a knack for landing them. Clemson has been a hot spot for incredible talent in recent years, with reigning National Player of the Year Seth Beer serving as proof. However, the recruiting trail is not the only source of this wealth of talent, as the transfers have changed the face of a team hoping to leave a permanent mark on the game of baseball this season.

Next: 3 Prospects That Should Be A Priority For Clemson Throughout The Spring

Be sure to stay tuned to Rubbing The Rock for more news regarding the Clemson baseball program.