The Clemson baseball program will attempt to have a bounce back year in 2020 after failing to host a regional for the first time under Monte Lee this past season. It appears as though the Tigers will have to do so without their top three hitters off of the 2019 team.
Senior Grayson Byrd led the Tigers in batting average, home runs and RBIs this season and was drafted by the Cubs in the 24th round of the MLB draft. He will begin his pro career after running out of eligibility.
Clemson’s next two top hitters — junior catcher Kyle Wilkie and junior shortstop Logan Davidson — are expected to sign pro contracts as well, according to Lee.
The expectation all along was for Davidson, a first-round pick by the Athletics, to turn pro. Wilkie was more up in the air entering the draft but is also likely to sign after being picked in the 12th round by the Pirates.
Other players selected that Clemson will lose are junior pitcher Owen Griffith (20th round, Twins) and senior pitcher Brooks Crawford (29th round, Giants).
“It’s pretty tough now with the way the draft is for juniors to turn it down, quite honestly,” Lee said in an interview with SportsTalk. “It’s kind of a tough financial situation... In this day and age, more times than not, when the juniors are drafted they’re going to sign, just because financially it’s a good situation for them and they’ll pay for their school.”
Byrd hit .316 with 16 homers and 59 RBIs as a senior. Wilkie was second in terms of batting average, hitting .307 with six homers and 41 RBIs. Davidson led Clemson in on-base percentage at .412. He finished with an average of .291 and hit 15 homers with 55 RBIs as a junior.
“What kid doesn’t want to go and go play professional baseball?” Lee said. “All of us that played the game coming up, that was our dream to get our name called on draft day... We’re going to wish all of our guys well as they move on to their professional career.”
Crawford was a weekend starter for Clemson in 2018 but struggled as a senior, finishing with a 1-5 record and 6.96 ERA. Griffith was 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA as a junior.
The Tigers also had four recruits drafted as Nasim Nunez went to the Marlins in the second round, Gavin Collyer was drafted by the Rangers in the 12 rounds, Jonathan French went to the Indians in the 30th round and Dylan Brewer was selected by the Giants in the 32nd round. Nunez is likely to sign, but Lee is less sure about the future of the other three.
“It’s a little bit more of a wait-and-see game with the high school guys just to see kind of what happens with them,” Lee said. “I never say never when it comes to guys getting drafted. I have seen it where even high school guys drafted later, if a team fails to sign somebody, they make a run at them late... My guess is two of the three would show up, but that’s just a guess. You just never really know.”