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Feb 03, 2024

2024 Baseball Outlook

By: Brian Hennessy

The 127th edition of Clemson Baseball is coming off the program’s 16th ACC title in 2023, but it has bigger aspirations to play deep into June in 2024. Second-year Head Coach Erik Bakich, who led the Tigers to a 44-19 record and 17-game winning streak late in the season, which culminated in an ACC Tournament title, has the Tigers’ sights set on their first College World Series appearance since 2010. Clemson is ranked as high as No. 9 in the nation in the preseason by Baseball America and USA Today.

Griffin Mazur, who served as the volunteer assistant coach in 2023, was elevated to assistant coach alongside second-year assistant coaches Nick Schnabel (assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator) and Jimmy Belanger (pitching coach). Under the coaching staff, the program set a record for highest semester GPA (3.27) in the fall, besting the previous mark of 3.09 set in the fall of 2022.

Tiger players who accounted for 46 percent of the starts in the 2023 season return in 2024. However, the Tigers must replace players who made every start at first base, second base and shortstop in 2023, including first-team All-American and John Olerud Two-Way Player-of-the-Year Award winner Caden Grice, who was the 64th pick of the MLB draft.

Clemson also lost first-team All-American Billy Amick (DH) along with veteran leaders Cooper Ingle (C), Riley Bertram (2B), Benjamin Blackwell (SS), Jackson Lindley (RP) and Ryan Ammons (RP).

The 2024 schedule features 34 home games and 25 games against 2023 NCAA Tournament teams. Clemson plays Presbyterian and USC Upstate at Fluor Field in Greenville and South Carolina three times, including a neutral-site game at Segra Park in Columbia. The season begins Feb. 16 with a three-game home series against Xavier. The ACC Tournament returns to Charlotte, N.C. for the third time overall and first time since 2022.


Sophomore Jacob Jarrell (Florence, S.C.) is the only returning Tiger with experience at catcher. The All-ACC Academic selection totaled five homers and 18 RBIs in 35 games (27 starts) in 2023 as one of the strongest and hardest workers on the team.

Senior Jimmy Obertop (St. Louis, Mo.), who also can play in the infield, is a transfer from Michigan who will compete with Jarrell for the starting job. In 134 games with the Wolverines, he hit .266 with 29 homers and 97 RBIs, including 15 homers and 54 RBIs in 2022.

Junior Nick Couch (Greenville, S.C.), who can also play in the outfield, redshirted in 2023 as a member of the developmental squad. He joins freshmen Ty Marshall (Cayce, S.C.) and Hideki Prather (Oakland, Calif.) as Tigers who will provide depth at catcher. Prather, who is the No. 391 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game, is expected to miss the 2024 season due to injury.


Senior Blake Wright (Belleair, Fla.) is the only infielder who returns with experience in a Tiger uniform. He was the everyday starter at third base in 2023, and he also has experience at second base. He is a career .281 hitter with 20 homers and 90 RBIs. He was a team co-captain and All-ACC Academic selection in 2023 as well.

Four Tiger infielders redshirted as first-year freshmen in 2023. Cooper Blauser (Johns Creek, Ga.), son of former MLB player Jeff Blauser, had a strong summer, when he was a Coastal Plain League All-Star Game selection, and fall. He is a candidate to start at first base in 2024.

Nolan Nawrocki (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) is a candidate to start on the left side of the infield in 2024 after his selection as a New England Collegiate Baseball League All-Star in the summer.

Jay Dillard (Anderson, S.C.) and Brodey Conn (Clemson, S.C.) are two local products who will compete for innings in the infield in the 2024 season. Dillard has the versatility to contribute at a variety of positions. Conn, who has been a member of the Clemson football team for two seasons, is also a versatile Tiger who can play many positions.

Two transfers will play a big role on the infield in 2024. Senior Jacob Hinderleider (Kaneohe, Hawaii) played four seasons at Davidson, where he hit .273 with 25 homers, 133 RBIs and 15 steals in 170 games. He batted .336 with 12 homers, 56 RBIs and a .445 on-base percentage in 2022.

Junior Andrew Ciufo (Medford, N.Y.) is the other infield transfer and joins Hinderleider as candidates to start at shortstop in 2024. Ciufo hit .270 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs in 78 games over two active seasons (2021,22) at Georgetown.

Two talented first-year freshmen, Jarren Purify (Detroit, Mich.) and Tryston McCladdie (Harlem, Ga.), will compete for roles in the middle of the infield. Purify is the No. 49 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game and impressed in the fall with his athleticism. McCladdie, who can also play in the outfield, is the No. 169 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game.


Clemson’s top-two returning offensive players return in the outfield. Sophomore Cam Cannarella (Hartsville, S.C.) burst onto the scene in center field to become the 2023 ACC Freshman-of-the-Year and a first-team freshman All-American. The No. 1 college prospect for the 2025 draft by Baseball America hit .388 with 72 runs, seven homers, 47 RBIs, a .462 on-base percentage and 24 steals in 2023 as a First-Team All-ACC selection. He also reached base via a hit or walk in 57 of his 59 games in 2023.

Junior Will Taylor (Irmo, S.C.) is coming off his first fall season on the diamond after playing his first two falls on the Tiger football team. The left fielder is a career .343 hitter with a .472 on-base percentage in 75 games. He hit .362 with 67 runs and a .489 on-base percentage, fourth highest in the ACC, in 2023.

The Tigers have four sophomore outfielders who lettered as freshmen in 2023 and will compete for starting spots in right field. Nathan Hall (Lexington, S.C.) was an All-ACC Academic selection who hit .243 in 39 games (16 starts). Jack Crighton (Rochester Hills, Mich.) was the predominant right fielder late in the season. The All-ACC Academic selection hit .239 in 34 games, as Clemson had a 15-1 record in his 16 starts.

Tristan Bissetta (Greenville, S.C.) is one of the strongest players on the team and has seen limited action. Lleyton Lackey (Evans, Ga.) also saw limited action in the outfield and as a pinch-runner in 2023.

Senior Alden Mathes (Broomall, Pa.) is a transfer who played and pitched four seasons at Richmond. He hit .319 with 21 homers, 117 RBIs and a .408 on-base percentage in 148 games with the Spiders.

Freshman Devin Parks (Fort Mill, S.C.), who won MVP honors of the North Carolina vs. South Carolina All-Star Game, will also compete for a role in the outfield.


The deepest part of the 2024 Tigers is their pitching staff. Clemson returns pitchers who accounted for 68 percent of the team’s starts and 67 percent of the team’s innings pitched in 2023.

A leading candidate for a spot in the weekend rotation is junior righthander Austin Gordon (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), who was the only Tiger in the weekend rotation during the entire 2023 season. He has a 4.74 ERA, .239 opponents’ batting average and 107 strikeouts against 31 walks in 112.0 innings pitched over 33 appearances (16 starts) in his career. He is the No. 77 college prospect for the 2024 draft by D1Baseball.

Sophomore Billy Barlow (North Myrtle Beach, S.C.) is another third-year righty who has starting experience. He missed most of 2023 due to injury after making 15 starts as a freshman in 2022.

Sophomore lefthander Ethan Darden (Rock Hill, S.C.) emerged as a reliable weekend starter midway through the 2023 season. He had 45 strikeouts in 55.1 innings pitched over 19 appearances (12 starts).

Tristan Smith (Boiling Springs, S.C.) is another sophomore lefty who will compete for a spot in the weekend rotation. The No. 60 college prospect for the 2024 draft by D1Baseball had four saves and a 4.55 ERA in 24 appearances (six starts) as a freshman.

Senior righty Ty Olenchuk (Irmo, S.C.), who also debuted as an outfielder in the 2023 Clemson Regional, has experience as a starter and reliever. He changed his posture in 2023, when he had a 3.97 ERA in 17 appearances.

Sophomore righthander Joe Allen (Hampton Falls, N.H.) was a long reliever and spot starter during the 2023 season, when he was 3-0 with a 3.94 ERA in 17 appearances.

Clemson’s most experienced pitcher is senior righty Nick Clayton (York, S.C.). He has been a starter, but had his best year out of the bullpen in 2023 thanks to his sidearm delivery. He won the 2023 Stowe Award as the team’s most valuable pitcher, as he was 8-0 with a 3.17 ERA in 48.1 innings pitched over 24 relief appearances. He is 15-3 with a 3.99 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 126.1 innings pitched in his career.

After battling injury, senior righty Rob Hughes (Rock Hill, S.C.) became one of the team’s top relievers in 2023, when he had a 1.56 ERA in 17.1 innings pitched.

Junior righty Reed Garris (Mount Pleasant, S.C.) also emerged as one of the team’s top relievers in 2023. He was 4-0 with a 2.12 ERA in 27 relief appearances, as he led the team in ERA, appearances and opponents’ batting average (.181).

Righthander Casey Tallent (Hartwell, Ga.) and lefty Rocco Reid (Greenville, S.C.) are two juniors who have been long relievers. Tallent has a 3.65 ERA in 44.1 innings pitched in his career. Reid has shown flashes of dominance in 28 appearances in his career.

Sophomore righty Nathan Dvorsky (Suwanee, Ga.) saw limited action in 2023 and will provide depth in the bullpen. Senior lefthander B.J. Bailey (Woodruff, S.C.) was an effective reliever in 2023, but is expected to miss time in 2024 due to injury.

Of Clemson’s 10 new pitchers, two are veteran transfers and will compete for innings. Senior righty Matthew Marchal (Greenville, S.C.) is the No. 52 transfer in the nation by D1Baseball after three seasons at Wofford and one at Furman. The son of former Tiger pitcher Doug Marchal was 22-10 with three saves, a 4.16 ERA and 235 strikeouts against only 48 walks in 227.0 innings pitched over 61 outings (37 starts) in those four seasons.

Junior righty Lucas Mahlstedt (Ormond Beach, Fla.) also transferred from Wofford, where he was 9-3 with six saves, a 4.23 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 115.0 innings pitched over 48 appearances as a sidearm reliever.

Sophomore lefty Noah Samol (Mason, Ohio) made 12 relief appearances at Georgia Tech before transferring to Clemson and is expected to miss the season due to injury.

The Tigers have four righthanders and three lefthanders among their freshman pitchers. Luke Brown (Apex, N.C.), Chance Fitzgerald (Sanford, Fla.), Aidan Knaak (Fort Myers, Fla.) and Drew Titsworth (Frankenmuth, Mich.) are four talented righties. Knaak (No. 74), who missed time in the fall due to injury, Fitzgerald (No. 152) and Titsworth (No. 216) are all ranked among the top-250 freshmen in the nation by Perfect Game.

The three freshman lefties are Jackson Cole (Boiling Springs, S.C.), Justin LeGuernic (Dix Hills, N.Y.) and Jacob McGovern (Seneca, S.C.). LeGuernic is the No. 36 freshman in the nation by Perfect Game.