Our Sleeper of the Week this week is Jeff Clement of the Seattle Mariners. Clement should see time at catcher and DH this season, sharing time behind the dish with Kenji Johjima and with several others at DH. Last season, Clement was called up from the Minors on April 30th, and hit a paltry .166 with 0 HR in 15 games played before being sent back down to Tacoma on May 18th. Clement picked up where he had left off for the M’s AAA affiliate, mashing Pacific Coast League pitching. Exactly a month later he found himself back in Seattle, this time for the rest of the season.
Upon his return to Seattle, Clement performed somewhat better than in his first stint, hitting .245 with 5 HR and 21 RBI in 51 games. But the most encouraging numbers are those posted by Clement after missing a few late July games because of a thumb injury. In the month of August, Clement showed his potential by hitting a red hot .373 in 77 at-bats. That hot streak, however, was halted by a knee injury in early September that caused Clement to miss the last month of the season.
The outlook for Clement in 2009 is a solid one. With roughly a half-season against Major League pitching under his belt, and the Mariners apparently committed to putting him in the lineup, Clement could establish himself as a top ten fantasy catcher this season. In the most recent Café mock draft, Clement went undrafted. In the latest Café positional rankings, Clement was 20th among all catchers. Owners that invest a late-round flier pick on Clement as a backup catcher to a second-tier option at the position, such as A.J. Pierzynski or Kelly Shoppach, could be rewarded with a nice upgrade at catcher.
A line of 60 runs, 18 home runs, 65 RBI, and a .275 average are within reach for Clement this season. Those numbers are definitely not on par with the Mauers and Martins of the world, but viable for a catcher in your 12-team or deeper league, and certainly viable in a league with two starting catcher spots.
This is the last time this year that I write to you from the depths of baseball-less winter. By the next installment of this column on Monday, February 16th, pitchers and catchers will have reported to the Spring Training camps of all 30 Major League franchises. Rogers Hornsby said it best when he mused, “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” After the long winter months, the fantasy baseball season is almost here folks!
Ryan Dunn is a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan. He resides in South Bend, Indiana with his wife and two children, where he works in sales for a beverage distributor, and part time for the South Bend Silver Hawks of the Midwest League. Ryan posts in the cafe forums as RDD15.
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