Detroit Tigers Top 20 Prospects: No. 18 Kody Clemens

Kody Clemens of the Detroit Tigers. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB photos via Getty Images)
Kody Clemens of the Detroit Tigers. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB photos via Getty Images) /

Our look at the top 20 prospects in the Detroit Tigers system continues with an in-depth examination of Kody Clemens.

Kody Clemens is the second infielder we’ve previewed, following our #20 prospect Andre Lipcius. You can also read about our #19 prospect Garrett Hill here.

Kody Clemens’ Background

Clemens comes from Houston, Texas, and is the son of former big-league star Roger Clemens. After playing high school ball, Kody went to play at the University of Texas, where he played until he was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft.

He batted .242 with five home runs while playing mostly third base and shortstop in his freshman year of college. In his sophomore campaign he had Tommy John surgery but still played DH for the Longhorns, hitting .241 with five homers in 54 games. Clemens blossomed into an All-American during his junior season, batting .351 with 24 home runs while ending as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award.

After the draft Clemens spent time in West Michigan with the Whitecaps and in Lakeland with the Flying Tigers, batting .288 with five home runs in 52 games between the two clubs. He returned to Lakeland to begin 2019 and later moved up to Double-A Erie, but he struggled overall, batting just .231 with 12 home runs in 128 games.

Kody Clemens spent part of the pandemic-shuttered 2020 season playing independent ball with Team Texas of the Constellation Energy League, but he had a solid spring training in 2021, and he parlayed that into a quality season with the Toledo Mud Hens, where he hit .247 with 18 home runs in 97 games.

Kody Clemens’ Strengths

Kody’s main strengths are his power and defensive versatility. Clemens has plus raw pop and can go deep to all fields, and he spent time in right field and first base in 2021. He’s steady and sure-handed, with a .987 fielding percentage and just 12 errors through three seasons in the minors. Clemens also shows decent plate discipline, with a career 9.4% walk rate and a 21.9% strikeout rate in the minors.

Kody Clemens’ Weakness

Clemens’  biggest weakness is probably his pure hit tool. He has an uphill swing that results in a fair amount of lazy fly balls, and frequently pulls balls on the ground, leading to a lot of easy, shift-based outs. He’s also a below-average runner with below-average range on the infield, and his post-TJ arm strength is a bit light to handle third base on a regular basis.

Our Take on Kody Clemens

The Tigers added Clemens to their 40-man roster after the 2021 season, so there’s a decent chance he makes his MLB debut in 2022. But the club also signed Jonathan Schoop to a two-year extension last August, and he figures to slide back to the keystone when Spencer Torkelson takes over at first. That leaves Clemens battling Harold Castro, Willi Castro, Isaac Paredes, and Zack Short for playing time as a bench bat/injury replacement. Clemens will almost certainly spend the majority of the 2022 season back in Toledo.

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