- Full name Jeffrey Burton Clement
- Born 08/21/1983 in Marshalltown, IA
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Southern California
- Debut 09/04/2007
Drafted in the 1st round (3rd overall) by the Seattle Mariners in 2005 (signed for $3,400,000).
View Draft ReportClement enjoyed a storied high school career in small-town Iowa, setting the national career high school home run record with 75. He generates light-tower power with a short, compact lefthanded swing. He stays inside the ball well and gets excellent backspin. After hitting 21 home runs as a freshman at USC, he slumped to 10 in an injury-plagued sophomore season and struggled to top that total this spring as teams pitched around him. The Trojans hit him in the No. 2 spot in the order in hopes that he would see better pitches. He has become a better overall hitter in the process, improving his average to a team-high .368 after two sub-.300 seasons. He has used the whole field and demonstrated better plate coverage, walking 39 times against 25 strikeouts. As a major league hitter, he projects to hit .270-.280 with 30-35 home runs. Clement has outstanding makeup and has worked hard to shore up his weaknesses. He has shown his biggest improvement behind the plate, working on his defense with former big league catcher and USC volunteer coach Chad Kreuter, the son-in-law of head coach Mike Gillespie. His set-up, mechanics, blocking and arm quickness are all much improved. He still has only a 40-50 arm on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, but threw out almost 50 percent of basestealers this year. Unlike former USC catcher Eric Munson, a powerful lefthanded-hitting catcher who was the third overall pick in 1999, Clement won't require a position switch. Munson immediately moved to first base for the Tigers, who have the 10th pick this year and shown a strong interest in Clement.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Clement turned down the Twins as a 12th-round pick out of an Iowa high school in 2002, opting to attend Southern California instead. After the draft, Clement finished his prep career by breaking Drew Henson's national high school career home run record with 75. With the Trojans, he hit 46 home runs in three years, eight short of Mark McGwire's career mark, prompting the Mariners to take him with the third pick in the 2005 draft. Seattle signed him for $3.4 million, a club record for a drafted player. His first full pro season, 2006, was interrupted for seven weeks when he needed operations to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and remove a bone chip from his left elbow. Upon his return, the Mariners jumped Clement from Double-A San Antonio to Triple-A Tacoma, where he struggled to gain his footing. He caught his breath in 2007, turning in his best pro season, and clubbed two home runs 16 at-bats during his big league debut in September. Clement headed to the Arizona Fall League in October, his third winter ball stint in three years since signing, but missed the final two games after being sidelined with a sore left elbow that didn't require surgery. Clement offers rare above-average lefthanded power from the catcher position. He stays inside the ball well and makes consistent, hard contact to all fields. Clement worked to slow the game down in 2007. Where previously he would look to pull everything, he now shows a mature approach, extending at-bats by working pitchers for his pitch or for walks. Clement gets such good backspin and carry on the ball that he can drive it out of any part of the park. A natural leader with work ethic to spare, he offers average arm strength to go with solid receiving, blocking and game-calling abilities behind the plate. Clement has worked extensively with roving catching instructor Roger Hansen on getting his feet to work with his arm on throws. Hansen is convinced that Clement will catch in the big leagues because he's dedicated to putting in the necessary work to improve. Scouts outside the organization are less optimistic, though, believing Clement will always struggle to throw out runners because of below-average release times and accuracy. He has caught 29, 26 and 27 percent of basestealers in three pro seasons. Typical for a catcher, he's a below-average runner. Despite running hot and cold in Triple-A and having to contend with a timeshare arrangement with fellow catching prospect Rob Johnson, Clement's bat is ready for the big leagues. But with 31-year-old Kenji Johjima entrenched as the Mariners' catcher--not to mention Johnson's plus defensive tools--Clement may have to work his way into the lineup at DH or by learning first base.
The third overall pick in the 2005 draft, Clement signed for a Mariners draft-record $3.4 million. His first full pro season was interrupted for seven weeks when he needed May operations to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and remove a bone chip from his left elbow. When he returned, Seattle promoted him to Triple-A, where he predictably struggled. Power is Clement's calling card. He broke Drew Henson's national prep mark with 75 career homers, then hit 46 more in three years at Southern California, eight shy of Mark McGwire's school record. Clement shortened his swing in 2005 and should hit for a solid average as well. He has worked hard to improve as a catcher, and Seattle believes he'll become an average defender. Scouts from outside the organization have less faith in Clement's athletic and catching ability, and he definitely needs to get better behind the plate. He has an average arm but doesn't always get his feet set, costing him strength and accuracy. He threw out just 26 percent of basestealers in 2006. He's a below-average runner. Clement concluded his year by hitting .189 in Hawaii Winter Baseball, but the Mariners expect him to rebound in 2007. They want to get his bat into their big league lineup as soon as possible, though he may have to break in as a DH with Kenji Johjima at catcher and Richie Sexson at first base. For now, Clement will stay behind the plate and open the season in Triple-A.
In 2002, Clement had a chance to become the first Iowa high school player ever drafted in the first round. But his lackluster performance at the Perfect Game predraft showcase in mid-May dropped his stock enough that he wasn't going to give up on his commitment to Southern California. Considered unsignable at that point, he went in the 12th round to the Twins. After the draft, Clement finished his prep career by leading Marshalltown to the Iowa state 4-A title and breaking Drew Henson's national high school career home run record with 75. With the Trojans, he set a school freshman record with 21 homers and hit 46 in three years, eight short of Mark McGwire's career mark. With the No. 3 overall pick in June--their earliest choice in a decade--the Mariners were zeroing in on Long Beach State shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. But the weekend before the draft, Seattle decided it already was deep in shortstops, switched gears and opted for Clement. He held out until late July before signing for $3.4 million, a club record for a drafted player. It took him a couple of weeks to get his bat going, but he finished the summer on a 25-for-68 (.368) tear that included five homers, then played well in the Arizona Fall League. Clement has been known for his light-tower power since he was chasing Henson's record in high school. Very few catchers in baseball history can match his lefthanded pop, and he should be a more complete hitter than the more recent candidates, such as Todd Hundley and Mickey Tettleton. After batting just .298 and .293 in his first two seasons at USC, Clement made some adjustments as a junior and improved to .348. He now has a shorter and sounder swing, stays inside the ball better and generates good backspin. He also tightened his strike zone and covered more of the plate. He's content to use the entire field because he realizes he doesn't have to pull pitches to smoke them out of the park. His bat always has been ahead of his defense, but he made significant strides behind the plate last year as well after working with USC volunteer assistant Chad Kreuter, a former big leaguer who's also the son-in-law of Trojans head coach Mike Gillespie. Clement has put to rest any doubts that he can stay behind the plate. He has average arm strength, his receiving and game-calling skills are fine and he blocks balls well. He has the leadership ability desired of a catcher and the work ethic to get better. Clement, who threw out 29 percent of basestealers in his pro debut, can improve his throwing. He needs to refine his footwork and transfer because his release gets long, costing him time and accuracy. He won't be a Gold Glover, though he should be more than adequate defensively. He's going to accumulate some strikeouts, but that's an acceptable tradeoff for his power, and he'll also draw his share of walks. Typical for a catcher, he's a below-average runner. After signing Japanese all-star Kenji Johjima in November, the Mariners don't need to rush Clement. But Clement, who has a higher ceiling, could be ready toward the end of 2007. He'll probably open the year at high Class A Inland Empire and could be pushing for a promotion to Double-A San Antonio by midseason.
Minor League Top Prospects
Clement rolled through the Mariners system, making his Triple-A debut in 2006, barely a year after being drafted. He had to bide his time for much of three seasons in Tacoma before Seattle gave him a shot to play regularly in the majors this June. He injured his left knee in September, requiring arthroscopic knee surgery that ended his season. Clement decimated PCL pitching while waiting for his shot this year. Power is his calling card, but he also has matured as a hitter and uses the entire field. He continued improving his eye at the plate and waited for pitches he could drive. He's a tireless worker, but scouts still doubt his defensive future and foresee him moving to first base. His throwing arm, receiving skills and agility are average at best, and he threw out just 22 percent of PCL basestealers. As usual for a catcher, he's a below-average runner.
Clement had a chance to catch his breath this season, after being rushed from No. 3 overall pick in 2005 to Triple-A last season with just 172 at-bats in between. Bundy labeled Clement the most improved hitter in the league, noting he had abandoned the dead-pull approach he had shown the year before. Clement controls the strike zone and hits the ball hard, and he doesn't have to try to yank every pitch to hit it out of the park. A tireless worker, he calls a good game and blocks well, but he continues to struggle with his throwing mechanics. He threw out 27 percent of basestealers, getting by on average arm strength while showing just minimal improvement with his footwork.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the Seattle Mariners in 2008
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Seattle Mariners in 2008
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Seattle Mariners in 2007
- Rated Best Power Hitter in the Seattle Mariners in 2006