JEFF CLEMENT
FIRST BASEMAN
  Born: August 21, 1983
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 210
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: 1st Round, 3rd Overall, 2005
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
College: University of Southern California
Agent: Casey Close, Brodie Van Wagener

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

At the time, Clement was the most prominent player the Pirates obtained from Seattle in exchange for SS Jack Wilson and RHP Ian Snell.  The others were SS Ronny Cedeno and RHPs Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin and Nathan Adcock.  Clement was the third overall pick as a catcher in the 2005 draft and was Seattle’s top prospect, according to Baseball America, in 2006 and 2008.  He set the national career HR record in high school, then fell eight HRs short of Mark McGwire’s career record at USC.  He was never able to get established in Seattle, though, due to knee problems and questions about his defense.  The Pirates acquired him with the intention of moving him to first.

2005
A-:  273/400/364, 11 AB, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
A:  319/386/522, 113 AB, 5 2B, 6 HR, 12 BB, 25 K, 1-3 SB

After signing, Clement spent about a month in low A after a brief tuneup in short season ball.  He hit well, as would be expected.

2006
AA:  288/386/525, 59 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 BB, 8 K
AAA:  257/321/347, 245 AB, 10 2B, 4 HR, 16 BB, 53 K, 0-2 SB

After 15 games in AA, during which he had a .911 OPS, the Mariners promoted Clement to AAA.  He struggled there in 67 games, as his season was interrupted by knee surgery and by another operation to remove bone chips from his elbow.  He started to show signs of plate discipline issues.

2007
AAA:  275/370/497, 455 AB, 35 2B, 3 3B, 20 HR, 61 BB, 88 K
MLB:  375/474/813, 16 AB, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 3 K

Clement returned to AAA and had a good season, showing good strike zone judgment.  Although this came in the strongly offense-oriented Pacific Coast League, the Mariners’ affiliate, Tacoma, at least did not play in a hitters’ park.  Clement played briefly in the majors at the end of the year.  Doubts about his ability to stay at catcher grew in 2007-08, partly due to his knee problems and partly due to subpar defense.  He wasn’t terrible at throwing, although he wasn’t good, either with a 27% CS% in 2007 and 22% in 2008.

2008
AAA:  335/455/676, 173 AB, 17 2B, 14 HR, 35 BB, 30 K
MLB:  227/295/360, 203 AB, 10 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 15 BB, 63 K, 0-1 SB

Clement split the year between AAA and the majors.  He tore up the PCL, with 14 HRs in just 48 games.  In the majors, though, he struggled, with a 4:1 K:BB ratio, and scouts began to question whether he’d ever hit big league pitching.  One interesting theory that attempted to explain both scouts’ apparent disdain for Clement and his strong numbers in AAA was expounded late in the 2007 season.  The theory was that he’d lost bat speed and could only hit LHPs, who in AAA are predominantly soft tossers.  Clement did, in fact, have an OPS that was nearly 200 points higher against LHPs than RHPs in 2007.  The theory fell apart, however, when Clement posted a higher OPS in AAA against RHPs in both 2008 and 2009.

2009
AAA (Sea):  288/366/505, 372 AB, 33 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 43 BB, 81 K, 1-1 SB
AAA (Pgh):  224/313/459, 98 AB, 2 2B, 7 HR, 12 BB, 27 K, 1-2 SB

Before the trade, Clement spent all his time in AAA, serving mainly as a DH.  Seattle by then had signed Kenji Johjima to an ill-advised long-term contract, blocking Clement.  He hit well, although he struggled badly with LHPs.  After the trade, the Pirates sent him to Indianapolis to get more time at first, where he’d played only six games prior to the trade.  He’d been hot when he first arrived at Indianapolis, but slumped badly after the injury and finished with a .772 OPS at Indy.

2010
AAA:  304/337/548, 168 AB, 15 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 9 BB, 48 K, 1-5 SB
MLB:  201/237/368, 203 AB, 10 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 15 BB, 63 K, 0-1 SB

Clement worked out intensively at first in spring training and got off to a slow start offensively in the exhibitions.  There was enormous apprehension among Pirate fans that Clement’s defense would be a disaster, evidently because many Pirate fans consider first to be much tougher than catcher.  As it turned out, Clement played very respectably in the field.  In fact, he was above average according to UZR and +/-, although the sample size is very small.  Ironically, though, he didn’t hit.  It was obvious when he managed to make contact that he has prodigious power, but he struggled with the strike zone.  The Pirates sent him to AAA at the beginning of June and he hit very well there for the better part of two months.  Ominously, though, his walk and K numbers were bad.  The Pirates called him back up at the end of July after ridding themselves of Bobby Crosby and Ryan Church.  He started off well, going 5-for-17 with two HRs, but started having trouble with his left knee.  The Pirates shut him down for good in late August and he had surgery a few weeks later.  The Pirates removed him from the roster in November, he cleared waivers, and they outrighted him to Indianapolis.

2011
R:  257/308/371, 35 AB, 4 2B, 3 BB, 7 K
AAA:  271/358/407, 59 AB, 5 2B, 1 HR, 7 BB, 15 K

The Pirates expected Clement to be ready at some point during spring training, but he wasn’t ready to play until the end of July.  After a rehab assignment in the GCL, he moved up to AAA and played semi-regularly, alternating between first and DH.  He posted a .765 OPS.

2012
AAA:  276/340/486, 416 AB, 35 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 41 BB, 101 K, 1-1 SB
MLB:  136/208/182, 22 AB, 1 2B, 2 BB, 7 K

Clement became a free agent after the 2011 season but re-signed with the Pirates.  He returned to Indianapolis and hit very well in the first four months, possibly due to his knees being the healthiest they’d been in years.  The Pirates seemingly had a good opportunity to call him up for interleague play, when they’d have the DH for road games, but they didn’t.  Instead, they waited until he went into a slump in August and called him up late in the month.  After he went hitless in six ABs, they outrighted him to the minors, but it was just a temporary move.  He was assigned to Bradenton, as the Marauders’ season ended sooner than any of the Pirates’ other affiliates.  That allowed the Pirates to bring Clement back just three days after they outrighted him.  He spent September with the team, mainly as a pinch hitter.  He did little at the plate.

The Pirates removed Clement from the 40-man roster after the season and he cleared waivers, but still had the option of becoming a free agent.  Once a player is at the stage of his career that Clement’s at, he’s likely to get only brief chances and Clement did nothing with his.  There were rumors in September that at least one Japanese team was interested in his services.  It’d be surprising to see him return to the Pirates.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2012: Minor League Contract
2011:
Minor League Contract
2010: $405,000
2009: $405,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $3,400,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 9/4/2007
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 9/4/2007
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2008, 2009, 2010)
MLB Service Time: 1.109
TRANSACTIONS
June 4, 2002: Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 12th round, 362nd overall pick.
June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 1st round, 3rd overall pick; signed on July 26.
September 4, 2007: Contract purchased by the Seattle Mariners.
July 29, 2009: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Seattle Mariners along with Ronny Cedeno, Brett Lorin, Aaron Pribanic, and Nathan Adcock in exchange for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell.
November 3, 2010: Outrighted to AAA by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
November 2, 2011: Became a free agent.
December 20, 2011: Signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.
August 24, 2012: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
August 31, 2012: Outrighted to the minors by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
September 3, 2012: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
October 25, 2012: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.