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Tigers open Day 2 with bang: Clemens' son

Texas second baseman is Big 12 Conference Player of the Year
MLB.com

DETROIT -- The Tigers used their first pick in Day 2 of the 2018 MLB Draft to get Kody Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. MLB Pipeline ranked the fourth-year junior as the No. 179 player in the Draft.

Clemens has showed strong power from the left side of the plate this season, leading the Big 12 with 19 home runs on his way to becoming the conference player of the year. Clemens, who was drafted in the 35th round out of high school by the Astros, started pulling more pitches and developing more pop in his bat to move up 32 rounds.

DETROIT -- The Tigers used their first pick in Day 2 of the 2018 MLB Draft to get Kody Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens. MLB Pipeline ranked the fourth-year junior as the No. 179 player in the Draft.

Clemens has showed strong power from the left side of the plate this season, leading the Big 12 with 19 home runs on his way to becoming the conference player of the year. Clemens, who was drafted in the 35th round out of high school by the Astros, started pulling more pitches and developing more pop in his bat to move up 32 rounds.

Video: Draft Report: Kody Clemens, College infielder

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

"He's basically my eyes if I ever have questions about anything," said the younger Clemens, of his father. "He talks to me about the pitching side of hitting."

"His dad is obviously a genius when it comes to breaking down pitchers," said Texas head coach David Pierce, who added that confidence and discipline in the batter's box are two of Clemens' best qualities. "This is a kid that's faced probably 20 of the top 100 arms in college baseball."

Clemens originally went to Texas as a third baseman, but Tommy John surgery chipped away at his arm strength enough that he moved to second, where he proved to be a more reliable glove than at the hot corner. Clemens shows below-average speed for a second baseman, but he has good instinct at the position and has posted a 98.5 fielding percentage this season.

"To me, he can play third," said Pierce, who believes Clemens' arm strength is back and not an issue. "I think he's a better second baseman for us. … But I think he can play shortstop in professional baseball."

"He keeps his head in the game and knows where he needs to be and what's going on around him," said Scott Pleis, Tigers director of amateur scouting. "He has great instincts and is going to be a really good infielder."

The Longhorns are still playing in the College World Series. They open a best-of-three contest on Saturday against Tennessee Tech in the Super Regionals.

Clemens is the third son of Roger Clemens to be taken in the Draft. Koby Clemens was drafted by the Astros in Round 8 in 2005. He made it to Triple-A Oklahoma and is now a coach in the Astros' farm system. Kacy Clemens was drafted by the Blue Jays in Round 8 in '17, and is currently playing in Class A Advanced Dunedin.

"Extremely proud of Kody and all of the hard work he has put in over the last two years," Roger Clemens told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "And thankful that the hard work has translated into him getting an opportunity to play at the professional level. A lot of excitement and tears today knowing that he'll get that opportunity thanks to the Detroit Tigers.

"And now, he has already turned his attention and focus back on his teammates and the University of Texas and the Super Regionals coming up this weekend in Austin. It has been some kind of ride so far!"

Round 4: CF Kingston Liniak, Mission Hills (Calif.) HS
The Tigers grabbed their second high school player of the Draft with Liniak, a speedy and lengthy outfielder who helped highlight an otherwise lackluster crop of talent in Southern California.

Video: Draft Report: Kingston Liniak, High School outfielder

Speed is Liniak's best tool right now, and he used it to his advantage on the basepaths and in the outfield in high school. He has a strong arm that could translate to either corner in the outfield, but seems to be a more natural fit in center.

Liniak is currently committed to play baseball at the University of San Diego.

"He's a really athletic kid with good size, strength and a lot of upside in the body," Pleis said. "He is going to stay in center field, and can run, throw and do a lot of things."

Round 5: LHP Adam Wolf, Louisville
The second pitcher taken in the Draft by the Tigers proved to be a versatile and valuable asset for the Louisville pitching staff over the past four years. Wolf began his collegiate career as a lefty reliever, but was moved into the starting rotation after Brendan McKay was drafted by the Rays with the No. 4 overall pick in 2017. Wolf worked to an 8-2 record and 2.63 ERA this season, while easily leading the staff with 102 1/3 innings pitched.

Wolf sat around 90 mph with his fastball, which he can dial up to 93. His best pitch has been his cutter, though, which he learned how to throw after an internet search for "Mariano Rivera cutter." He can also morph that pitch into something closer to a slider.

Video: Draft Report: Adam Wolf, College pitcher

Also working for Wolf is a three-quarter arm slot that gives his pitches a deceptive angle, especially against left-handed hitters. So if he doesn't blossom into a starting role professionally, the potential is there for Wolf to be an effective reliever.

"Wolf ... will show you some power, but will pitch around average," Pleis said. "Good slider, good changeup, good feel, good pitch ability, has some deception to him, knows the game, knows how to pitch and does a great job on the mound."

Round 6: RHP Hugh Smith, Whitworth College
The Tigers made one of the more surprising picks by going off the radar and getting Smith from Division III Whitworth College. Smith, a junior, is 6-foot-10. He was invited to the Tigers' pre-Draft workout as well as a bullpen session, but wasn't able to attend either.

The Tigers are trusting area scout Dave Dangler on this one, and it's no wonder why. Smith was described by his college coach as a freak athlete and has a fastball that can jump up to 98 mph, though he sits with it at 91-94 mph.

"His ability to hold that 91-94 in games this year is a good nod for him to be a starter," Whitworth head coach CJ Perry said.

Smith also has a changeup with an arm-side fade he's confident in. Smith said it's a pitch that he had to redevelop after getting uncomfortable with it.

Video: Draft Report: Hugh Smith, College pitcher

"This year I reworked the grip, and I threw it [in] a lot in bullpens," Smith said, "so I got a lot more confident with it. It's a pitch I think I can throw whenever I want."

Aside from a lively fastball and reliable changeup. Smith and Perry believe Smith's athleticism is his greatest asset on the mound.

"It's something you have to take pride in," Smith said. "Your goal as a pitcher is to record outs, so if the ball is hit back to you, you can help yourself out there. That's really big to have. It's really helpful, too, with body awareness and being able to figure out your mechanics and timing, especially being as tall as I am."

Smith said he doesn't know if the Tigers see him as a starter or reliever, but his experience doing both in high school and college makes him less concerned with their plans.

"It wouldn't shock me at all if he is throwing 100 at some point," Pleis said. "He's a great athlete. He is going to have to work on his delivery a little bit, like everyone does. It is a game of adjustments. But that is a really exciting young man there."

Round 7: OF Eric De La Rosa, Grossmont College
The Tigers got a good defensive outfielder who can hit for power with their Round 7 pick of De La Rosa. The sophomore played mostly in left field in college but has the speed and arm to move around the outfield.

"If he really fills into that body maybe at one point, maybe we will make a decision there about him staying in center field," Pleis said. "But he's got a lot of room to fill out."

De La Rosa hits well from the right side of the plate, batting .434 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs in 152 plate appearances this season. Scouts warn that he's a feast-or-famine hitter and may be prone to striking out often when he over-swings on a breaking ball that he's not able to pick up.

Round 8: SS Jeremiah Burks, Fresno State
The Tigers got their second infielder of the Draft with Burks, who starred at Fresno State in his junior season with a .340 batting average, nine home runs and 39 RBIs. Burks also led his team with 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts.

Burks also led his team in a less-desirable statistic, with 12 errors at shortstop. He had a 95.6 fielding percentage.

Round 9: LHP Tarik Skubal, Seattle University
The Tigers continued to grab arms with Skubal in Round 9. The left-hander posted a 4.16 ERA in 80 innings for Seattle University this season in 19 appearances (16 starts).

"He has three good pitches," Pleis said. "There's a lot of upside here, too. We like him. It's always nice to get a lefty."

Skubal held opposing hitters to a .225 batting average, but led his team in walks with 56. He was previously drafted in Round 29 of the 2017 Draft by the Diamondbacks.

Round 10: OF Brock Deatherage, North Carolina State
The Tigers' last pick on Day 2 went to the athletic outfielder Deatherage, who could become a valuable defensive piece in center field. His bat needs to be developed more, but for the time being he showed decent power at North Carolina State with 14 home runs this season.

The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.

Tyler Fenwick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.

Detroit Tigers