Clarke shows improved consistency with 2nd Fall League homer

October 8th, 2023

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Wes Clarke came into Arizona Fall League with one goal: working on consistency in the batter’s box.

Through one week of AFL action, the 22-year-old Brewers unranked prospect is following through with his ambitions, while also being the most productive hitter for the Surprise Saguaros. And it didn’t take long for the work he’s been putting in to reflect in the Saguaros' 7-2 win over the Desert Dogs on Saturday night.

On the first pitch he saw, Clarke roped an RBI single to center field to give Surprise an early lead in the top of the first inning. It was a preview of what was to come in his next at-bat in the third.

Clarke again swung at the first offering he saw, except this time the ball sailed 364 feet into the right-field bullpen for a three-run homer to give Surprise a four-run cushion.

“I really hate having two strikes,” said Clarke, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs and a walk, about his aggressive approach. “So the earlier I can hit the ball, the better.”

The dinger barely cleared the fence, but make no mistake about Clarke’s strength. The right-handed batter possesses plenty of power, evidenced by his 430-foot home run earlier in the week. Clarke led Brewers Minor Leaguers with 26 home runs in 2023, and during his time at South Carolina, he slugged an SEC-leading 26 home runs in his final season.

But the key to a promising Major League career is consistency, and that’s something Clarke has struggled with. Through the first half of the Double-A season, he had a slash line of .206/.358/.392. He turned it around in the second half, finishing with a .280 batting average.

“It was more of an approach thing,” Clarke said. “I never really changed any mechanics. You have to hit the ball hard and often. I had the hitting it hard part down. I’m just trying to make contact more often so I can produce more.”

The 2021 10th-round Draft pick is used to being an ironman. He started every game his junior year for the Gamecocks and he played in 118 games this year for Double-A Biloxi. In the Fall League, he doesn’t have the same luxury, as players from all seven clubs on the team need to get playing time. That’s why he makes the most of every opportunity he gets when he’s in the lineup.

“On those days you aren’t playing you have to get your work in,” Clarke said. "And I’ve been working really hard. If you consistently put in the work, the results are going to be consistent. You have to get the work in every day.”

Clarke said that playing with players from different organizations has made him see different perspectives of the game and described the Saguaros as a tight group that clicked from the outset. The results are showing, as Clarke is 6-for-16 with nine RBIs and an OPS of 1.349.

It also helps that he has an established relationship with hitting coach J.J. Reimer, who is part of the Brewers organization.

“He’s been a big help,” Clarke said. “He’s a great coach. He gets along with the guys and you can talk to him. He’s done really well.”

Clarke wasn’t the only Brewers player to shine under the lights in Glendale. Pitcher spun four shutout innings with seven strikeouts in his AFL debut.

(Reds) and (KC No. 26) each had a multihit game for Surprise.