Pittsburgh Pirates Should Give Jeff Clement One More Shot

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IJune 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Jeff Clement #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during batting practice prior to the start of the baseball game against Los Angeles Dodgers on April 29, 2010 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates are hovering on the edge of respectability and contention 51 games into the season. While many teams are seeking pitching help, the Pirates are desperately in need of offense. So far, they have been trying to fill their lineup holes from within.

Indianapolis regulars Matt Hague and Jordy Mercer are recent arrivals to Pittsburgh. Left fielder Alex Presley played 34 games for the parent club and will no doubt be back. There is one more name in Triple-A that should get another shot with the Pirates: Jeff Clement.

Remember Clement? He was the USC superstar catcher who was selected by Seattle third overall in the 2005 draft. Only Justin Upton and Alex Gordon were picked ahead of him.

Among those picked after him were Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza, Clay Buchholz and Jeremy Hellickson. From 2006 to 2008 he was considered to be one of the elite prospects in the game.

He came over to Pittsburgh in the Jack Wilson and Ian Snell deal during the 2009 season. So far, that trade has had no winner. Clement made the Pirates' major league roster to start the 2010 season. He struggled and went back and forth between Triple-A and the majors. Injuries derailed his 2011 season.

So here he sits, a 28-year-old Triple-A player. Obviously, he is no longer a prospect. But he is hitting well in Indianapolis. He is batting .290 with a respectable .869 OPS and five homers in 42 games. The Pirates could use a good hitting left-handed batter with line drive power.

The Pirates do not need him to be the superstar he was projected to be all of those years ago. They need him to treat this as a last shot at the majors. And maybe a scrappy hitter focused on his last real shot could be what this gritty Pirates team needs.

He is already in the organization and clearly has some talent. There is no downside. And the upside is he has a Roy Hobbs moment.

It's worth a shot.