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Prospect Retro: Matt Clement

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Matt Clement's Rookie Card

Watching Matt Clement inspired me to do a Prospect Retro on him, since he was one of my favorite prospects when he was in the minors.

Matt Clement was drafted by the Padres in the third round in 1993, out of high school in Butler, Pennsylvania. He made his pro debut in 1994, making 13 starts for Peoria in the Midwest League, going 8-5, 4.43, with a 76/17 K/BB ratio in 67 innings, allowing 65 hits. His K/BB and K/IP ratios were excellent, and his ratios supported an ERA much lower than 4.43. In retrospect, he'd rate something like a Grade B- prospect.

Clement's command gave him trouble in 1995. He made 12 starts for Rancho Cucamonga in the California League and struggled with his command, posting a very poor 33/49 K/BB in 57 innings, though his ERA was luckily decent at 4.24. Demoted to Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League at midseason, he went 6-3, 4.33 in 14 starts with a 65/42 K/BB. He was starting to draw notice for his above-average stuff, but his command was a serious problem. Grade C .

Clement split 1996 again, between Clinton in the Midwest League and Rancho. He was brilliant at Clinton, posting a 2.80 ERA and a 8-3 record in 16 starts, with a 109/52 K/BB in 96 innings. At Rancho his ERA jumped to 5.59, but his strikeout rate was excellent with a 75/26 K/BB in 56 innings. I gave him a C+ in the 1997 book.

Clement finally put his command and his stuff together in 1997. He went 6-3, 1.60 in 14 starts at Rancho, with a 109/31 K/BB in 101 innings. Promoted to Double-A Mobile, he went 6-5, 2.56 in 13 starts, with a 92/32 K/BB in 88 innings. He struck out 201 guys, boosted the velocity on his fastball from the upper 80s into the 90s, while improving his command. His grade rose to A-, and I rated him as the #11 prospect in baseball. Among pitchers, only Carl Pavano and Kerry Wood ranked ahead of Clement.

Moved up to Triple-A for '98, Clement went 10-9, 3.98 in 27 starts for Las Vegas, with a 160/85 K/BB in 172 innings. His command gave him a bit of trouble at times, but a 3.98 ERA is excellent for Las Vegas. I gave him another Grade A-, and wrote the following.
"Clement. . .won't dominate immediately in the majors a la Kerry Wood. I see him more as a steady development type who will take some lumps at first but develop into a rock-solid rotation anchor, assuming he stays healthy."

Clement entered the San Diego rotation in 1999, going 10-12, 4.48 in 31 starts. He was very erratic in 2000 and 2001, got traded to the Marlins, then onto the Cubs and now the Red Sox. He has been a solid number three type guy, but has never dominated quite to the extent that I thought he would. I could be nuts, but I still think that one of these days he is going to make a slight adjustment and be an absolute monster for a year or two.

Comparable Pitchers to Matt Clement

Todd Stottlemyre
Pete Harnisch
Steve Renko
Darryl Kile
Len Barker
Ron Darling
Mike Krukow