C’s Chat – Travis Bergen

Vancouver Canadians Travis Bergen

Travis Bergen made his Nat Bailey Stadium against the Hillsboro Hops June 28, 2015.

cs_alumni_update_new_logo2015 to 2017 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Travis Bergen fills up the strike zone in the latest installment of C’s Chat.

The 24 year-old lefthander from McDonough, Georgia was a seventh-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015 out of Kennesaw State University. He posted a 16-9 record with a 3.10 earned run average over his three-year career with the Owls, the last two as a starter. In his sophomore campaign in 2014, Bergen helped the Owls win their Atlantic Sun Conference championship and was named the Tallahassee Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after winning that tournament. Bergen backed up his outstanding sophomore season by earning Atlantic Sun Conference All-First Team honours as well as landing a spot on the All-Academic squad in 2015.

Bergen looked to continue his success on his transition from college to the pros and he made quite a statement in his 2015 professional debut with the C’s.  The 6-foot-1 hurler  pitched three shutout innings and struck out eight out of the 10 men he faced in Tri-City June 23. His only blemish was a leadoff walk to begin his second inning of work but he shrugged that off by striking out the last six men he faced. Seven of those strikeouts were of the swinging variety and he earned the victory for his efforts as the C’s downed the Dust Devils 4-2.

“I remember it being a lot of fun. I remember being pretty nervous and not knowing what to expect with pro ball being new to me but I enjoyed it. I went out there and did the best I could and ended up with some pretty good results.

It just happened to be one of those games where I was throwing some pretty good pitches and keeping (the hitters) off-balance quite a bit and that was about it. There wasn’t a whole lot to it or out of the ordinary I don’t think.”

Elbow Woes

Bergen’s next outing came five days later as he made his Nat Bailey Stadium debut. He made a good impression in front of the hometown fans that day with 2-1/3 scoreless innings of two-hit ball with three strikeouts against the Hillsboro Hops. Bergen had pitched into the ninth inning of the game but a sore left elbow would not let him continue. That day brought a series of mixed emotions for Bergen.

“That was a cool experience to begin with, with the fans and being in that stadium and how electric the crowd is. That was probably the first time that I’ve been front of a crowd like that. That was a lot of fun and a lot of adrenaline involved with that.

Before that, I never had any problems with my elbow. It kind of caught me off guard and shocked me a little bit when I had that feeling. I threw a couple of pitches and knew that something wasn’t right. I just wasn’t comfortable with continuing so I kind of pulled the chute and got out of there but the stadium itself and the crowd was great. It was just kind of unfortunate that my elbow kind of flared up there.”

Vancouver Canadians Travis Bergen

Travis Bergen struck out 11 batters with just one walk over 5-1/3 shutout innings with the C’s in 2015.


That was the start of Bergen’s troubles and he would see his next two seasons cut short as a result. His next action was just over a year later with three shutout innings over three appearances in the Gulf Coast League before returning to Vancouver to strike out two of the three men he faced July 23. Despite a hit and two walks, Bergen would put up another scoreless frame in Everett five days later but he would be shut down for the rest of the 2016 season.

“I’ve had a lot of problems with my elbow since I’ve been in pro ball. I hadn’t had any trouble with it beforehand and had never been an issue. Whatever it was, when I got drafted, it kind of started to bother me quite a bit.

We tried the rehabilitation route and it ended up not working. I had Tommy John on August 23rd of 2016 and I spent that next year doing the best that I could with the rehab and trying to get stronger and stay up to date with all the little monotonous exercises that you have to do every day that kind of strengthen your shoulder and that kind of stuff.

I tried to just take it one day at a time. If you kind of look too far down, down the road, you kind of get lost. I just tried to do the best I could with that particular day and kind of wake up and do it again. It was a tough situation but I think I learned a lot from it since then.”

Vancouver Canadians Travis Bergen

Travis Bergen made his second appearance in Vancouver against the Eugene Emeralds on July 23, 2016.


Bergen got back on the hill in late July with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in late July 25 and added three more scoreless appearances before he scored upon in his ninth career outing. He was summoned to Vancouver again and was roughed up for three runs in Spokane in his C’s debut August 17. Bergen would bounce back with four shutout innings and five strikeouts in Everett to earn the victory against the AquaSox August 24. His season debut at the Nat was a success as he spun 3-2/3 scoreless frames to earn a hold against the Boise Hawks August 30. That outing surpassed his innings total in British Columbia from the last two years combined. Bergen was happy with his extended stay in Vancouver.

“It was cool. The first two years, I wasn’t there for longer than two weeks either time so I didn’t really didn’t get a chance to kind of get settled and enjoy the city itself. The last time I was able to do that. I had a little bit longer stay and I was finally healthy. I wasn’t really worried about my elbow as much.

The team was winning so it was a great clubhouse to be in. The last year ended up being a lot better than the first two for me because  I didn’t have to worry about my elbow and that kind of stuff. I was able to have a lot more fun.”

2017 Playoffs

Bergen continued his roll into the playoffs as he was the winning pitcher in Game 1 of the North Division final against Spokane with three shutout frames. That game was played at Nat Bailey Stadium after a forest fire near Spokane forced the game to be moved.

“I’ve never been part of a ‘smoke-out’, that’s for sure so that was a little odd. I think as a team, we were all shocked that when they told us when it was time to go to the ballpark, that we were actually going back to Vancouver and play all three games there, that was a little interesting.

As far as the game, I just tried to give the team a chance to win. That’s all I do when I go out there. I just try to throw some strikes and force weak contact at that point. It was a really nice atmosphere to pitch in. The team was rolling pretty good and I was just out there having fun so I enjoyed it.”

Bergen said the fact they were the “visiting team” for Game 1 and had to wear their road grey pants didn’t really affect the C’s at tall.

“No, I don’t think so. I think that was probably a big advantage for us. It didn’t matter what colour of pants we were wearing. That home crowd, I think, really energized us. I think that played into our hands as well.”


Travis Bergen has worn #14, #22 and #23 over his three seasons with Vancouver.

2017 Northwest League Championship

Bergen made one more key contribution to the C’s championship drive with 2-2/3 shutout innings in Game 3 of the Northwest League final against the Eugene Emeralds. With four strikeouts to earn a hold in that contest, Bergen felt he was at the top of his game.

“I just remember all the games we played in the playoff series were really close. Everybody was locked in and trying to do the best they could. I enjoyed being in that spot. I was just trying to make good pitches, that’s all it was. At that point during the season, I was on a little bit of a roll and everything was pretty consistent. I was just trying to hit spots and that kind of stuff. The atmosphere of that playoff stretch was really cool. It was a nice feeling to be able to pitch during that situation.”

One night later, Bergen got to join in the dogpile as the C’s celebrated the 2017 Northwest League championship.

“We had a lot of fun. Myself, I was in the dugout. We came flying out there as quick as we could. From then on, we were just embracing each other and having a really cool time. A lot of us hadn’t experienced something like that so we just enjoyed it. We enjoyed the moment.

When we got back in the clubhouse, it was just a lot of fun and a lot of hard work kind of coming to a head and we really enjoyed it. “

Bergen was also impressed with the championship ring he received during spring training.

“It was special. I think the Blue Jays did a good job. During spring training, we had kind of a ceremony where all the teams in the organization that won the championship (Dunedin and Vancouver) got their rings at the same time. It was a cool experience to be able to do that. The ring itself is awesome. It’s a beautiful ring. They did a really good job with the details and the nuances of the ring itself. It was a cool experience.”

Vancouver Canadians Travis Bergen

Travis Bergen did not allow a run in 12-2/3 innings over his three-year stint at Nat Bailey Stadium.

Bergen’s Pitching Repertoire

Bergen says he has a three-pitch repertoire that has featured a switch in his choice of breaking ball.

“I usually stick with a four-seam fastball and I throw kind of a regular 12-6 curveball and a changeup. In the past, it’s been more of a silder but I kind of transitioned a little bit more to a curveball. That’s what I’m going with now and I’m just trying to sharpen up all three of those pitches.”

At the time Bergen was drafted, there was some thought among the scouting community that he did not have a plus pitch in his arsenal. However, that has not stopped him from compiling a strikeout rate of nearly 13 per nine innings so far. Bergen feels he has the stuff to succeed.

“I think it’s good. I think it’s good enough to compete with. I feel that the curveball is a good out pitch for me. I like to use the changeup early in the count. I think I can get outs with the fastball and curveball.

“I do my best to try to get ahead in the count and trying to be offensive. I just try to mix it up, go in and out. I try to go in on hitters quite a bit to try to make them a little more uncomfortable. I just try to be as convicted as I can to each pitch and hopefully the result is good. I’m not sure why my strikeout (rate) has been good. I just try to make good pitches, that all I try to do.”

Even though analytics continue to be all the rage in baseball, Bergen admits he hasn’t really looked at how he does what he does.

“I think the front office has access to all those numbers but as a staff, we don’t necessarily look at that a ton. It’s available to us but we don’t look at it a whole heck of a lot.”

Pitching at Kennesaw State

Bergen singles out two coaches for helping him develop as a pitcher.

“I really enjoyed playing for my college coach Kevin Erminio at Kennesaw State. Right now I’m working with Mark Riggins here in Dunedin. He’s really helping me sharpen up and tighten up my game. Right now he’s helping me quite a bit. I think my college coach kind of got me into the situation where I could pitch professionally. Those two guys have helped quite a bit so far.”

Bergen joins fellow pitcher Chad Jenkins (2009 1st round) and catcher Max Pentecost (2014 1st round) as Kennesaw State Owls that have been drafted by Toronto. He admits he did not know a whole lot about the Blue Jays organization coming in.

“Not a ton. When I was drafted, I was in contact with Max pretty quick. He was just excited that it worked out the way that it did relatively quick after I was drafted and I was down here (in Dunedin) already. It’s just they kind of throw you in the fire but I had heard good things and all of those things ended up being true. Those two guys were really good for Kennesaw and they turned out to be really good pros too.”

So far, Bergen is continuing to get the job done on the mound with the Dunedin Blue Jays. He has posted an ERA of 2.00 and has struck out 27 while walking only six over 18 innings so far. If Bergen keeps it up, he could very well rejoin his former batterymate Pentecost again in New Hampshire.

“If I ever got the chance, that would be cool. I always enjoyed pitching to him in college. He’s a great player and makes his teammates better and the people around him better. If I ever got the chance to be his teammate again, that would be a lot of fun.”

Bergen Looking Ahead

As for what Bergen hopes to accomplish in 2018, it all starts with staying on the mound.

“The biggest thing for me is just to stay healthy and to take care of my body. That one is first and foremost because I missed quite a bit of time with my elbow. I’m just trying to develop all of my pitches. Just kind of doing the best I can when I’m out there and learn from each outing. Learn from outings that don’t go as well and try to make them better each time. Really, I’m just trying to sharpen everything up and have fun. That’s about it as far as goals go.”

My thanks again to Travis Bergen for taking part in this episode of C’s Chat. You can follow him on Twitter @TBergen_. A big thank you goes to Dunedin Blue Jays Media Relations Coordinator Daniel Venn for coordinating the interview. He can be found on Twitter @GalapagosDan.

Posted in Baseball, C's Chat, Vancouver Canadians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

C’s Alumni Report – Tim Locastro Makes Dodger Stadium Debut

Vancouver Canadians Tim Locastro

2014 Vancouver Canadian Tim Locastro was called up to the Los Angeles Dodgers May 3.

cs_alumni_update_new_logo2014 Vancouver Canadians second baseman/outfielder Tim Locastro received his first extended exposure in the major leagues this month. He got to enjoy a bigger cup of coffee than the one he received during the final weekend of 2017. That’s when the Los Angeles Dodgers brought him up for a three-game trial in Colorado that included just one at-bat and one stolen base. There was speculation the 25 year-old Locastro was going to be added to the Dodgers playoff roster but it was not to be for the Auburn, New York native.

Locastro got the call from the Dodger Blue again from Triple-A Oklahoma City to patrol center field for his first major league start May 3 in Arizona. For those of you who have followed Locastro’s career, it will come as a huge surprise that he reached base on a hit by pitch in the ninth inning. It’s only surprising when you consider he has been plunked “only” 129 times so far over his minor league career. A shocking development indeed that nobody could have seen coming. What were the odds?

Sticking with the number 70 he wore during his first call-up, Locastro exacted a measure of revenge against D-Backs righthander Silvino Bracho by stealing second base. He also showed off his defensive talent with a leaping catch in the deepest part of Chase Field.

Locastro had to travel to Mexico in search of his first major league hit when the Dodgers took on the San Diego Padres in Monterrey May 4. The righthanded-hitting Locastro went down swinging in his first at-bat against Joey Lucchesi before hitting a ground-rule double to the left field corner in the fourth inning.

That was the final at-bat for Locastro that evening as he was pinch-hit for by Joc Pederson. He would watch the rest of the game from the dugout as Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore gave the Dodgers its first combined no-hitter in franchise history. That’s an excellent way for your first major league hit to get lost in the shuffle!

Two days later, Locastro picked up his second major league hit and drew a walk against San Diego lefthander and Blue Jays draft pick Eric Lauer.

When the Dodgers returned home to face Arizona May 8, Locastro got to step on the pentagon for the first time in his major league career. He subbed in for Dodgers pitcher J.T. Chargois and drew a pinch-hit walk in the fifth inning against Zack Godley. Locastro would scamper to third on an Alex Verdugo single before scoring on a Yasmani Grandal base rap. However, Los Angeles would fall to Arizona 8-5 in 12 innings.

Locastro would receive four pinch-hitting assignments over the next five days, facing Arizona one more time before the Cincinnati Reds invaded Dodger Stadium. The only time he would reach base was in his final plate appearance when he got aboard on an error May 13.

The banged-up Dodgers got some good news on the injury front when third baseman Justin Turner and Logan Forsythe came off the disabled list. That was bad news for Locastro as he was sent back down to Triple-A May 15.

Locastro will look to continue his successful start with the OKC Dodgers. So far, he is hitting .352 with six doubles, two triples and two home runs while going 7-for-7 in the stolen base department.

Posted in Baseball, C's Alumni Update, Vancouver Canadians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

C’s Alumni Update – Carlos Ramirez Joins Oakland Organization


Carlos Ramirez began his pro career as an outfielder with the Toronto Blue Jays organization in 2009.

cs_alumni_update_new_logoIt wasn’t enough for the Oakland Athletics to sweep a four-game set over the Toronto Blue Jays over the Victoria Day weekend, they also claimed righthanded pitcher and 2012 Vancouver Canadian Carlos Ramirez off waivers.

The native of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic burst onto the scene in 2017 by not allowing an unearned run over 37-2/3 innings at Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo. The 6-foot-5 hurler was called up to the bigs last September 1 and tossed two scoreless frames against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Ramirez was not scored upon over his first 10 innings over seven outings. He finished the year with a 2.70 earned run average over 16-2/3 innings with 14 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.54.

Heading into spring training, Ramirez was considered to have a shot at playing a key role in the Blue Jays bullpen in 2018 but a sore shoulder sidelined the 27 year-old for most of the spring. His fastball-slider combination was not working as effectively for him with the Buffalo Bisons when his 10 strikeouts was largely offset by eight walks in 8-1/3 innings, leaving him with a 0-1 record and a 5.40 ERA.

Ramirez was given a brief trial with the Blue Jays with back-to-back appearances in Minnesota and Cleveland. He walked a batter and struck out a batter against the Twins May 2  but he issued four walks and gave up a run in two innings at Progressive Field May 3. That led to Ramirez being sent back to the Bisons the next day before being designated for assignment May 13.

Ramirez contributed to the C’s Northwest League championship in 2012 as a right fielder. He doubled, scored twice and knocked in a run in a Game 1 victory over the Boise Hawks at Nat Bailey Stadium. He scored a run in Game 2 and drew a walk and scored another run in the deciding Game 3 at Boise Memorial Stadium.

Vancouver Canadians Carlos Ramirez

Carlos Ramirez batted .245 with 13 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases with Vancouver in 2012.

The 2012 season turned out to be Ramirez’s best season with the bat as he batted a combined .250 with Bluefield and Vancouver. A career batting average of .225 in the minors saw Ramirez move to the mound after stalling out in Lansing early in 2014. He would go back to extended spring training before a stint in Bluefield to end the year.

Ramirez had a 2.62 ERA with Bluefield but he walked five batters per nine innings in 2014. He spent most of 2015 with Lansing and was issuing nearly four free passes per nine. The walk rate remained a problem with Dunedin in 2016 with 4.5 walks per nine but he was averaging nearly a strikeout per inning during this whole time. The Blue Jays patience with Ramirez would pay off in 2017 but one has to wonder why their patience ran out with him in 2018. Athletics Nation calls the acquisition of Ramirez “a steal” for the A’s.

If Ramirez rediscovers his 2017 success with Oakland, you could say the Jays suffered five losses to the A’s during the Victoria Day debacle of 2018.

C’s Tweets

cs-tweetHere’s the latest round of C’s Tweets that piqued my interest over the past few days from or about Vancouver Canadians alumni including interviews, observations, photos and video highlights. This round begins with newest Lansing Lugnut and 2017 Vancouver Canadian Brandon Polizzi.

May 17

May 18

May 19

May 20

Posted in Baseball, C's Alumni Update, Vancouver Canadians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

C’s Alumni Update – Ah Well! Dawel Lugo’s MLB Debut Will Have To Wait

“For five minutes you came within… y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they’d consider it a tragedy.” –
Ray Kinsella to Archie ‘Moonlight’ Graham in Field of Dreams

Vancouver Canadians Dawel Lugo

Dawel Lugo swings away for the Vancouver Canadians during the 2013 season.

cs_alumni_update_new_logoThe major league debut for 2013 Vancouver Canadians shortstop Dawel Lugo has been put on hold. The 23 year-old from Baní, Perava in the Dominican Republic was called up by the Detroit Tigers at the beginning of the week. He was summoned from Triple-A Toledo after third baseman Jeimer Candelario went on the 10-day disabled list with a wrist injury.

Lugo was assigned #18 with the Tigers but after two days of soaking in the views of Comerica Park from the third base dugout, he was sent back to the Mud Hens. Detroit needed two fresh arms for its bullpen in its series finale against Cleveland.

The right-handed hitting Lugo batted .284 with seven doubles, a triple and a home run but has drawn just one walk in 141 at-bats down in Toledo. That has been the continuation of a seven-year trend for the 6-foot-tall shortstop as he has heard ball four just 102 times in 2,513 at-bats so far in his minor league career.

Baseball America rated Lugo as the Tigers’ eighth-best prospect coming into the 2018 season after being traded from Arizona as part of the J.D. Martinez deal. Before that, he was the number 2 prospect in the Diamondbacks system in 2017 and was rated 9th in the Blue Jays system in 2013.

According to a BA scouting report, Lugo has the defensive chops for third base with a strong arm and good glove skills but may not have the power in his bat to profile at the hot corner. They add his bat would be sufficient for second base but there are doubts he has the skills to stick at the keystone position. However, Lugo has enough bat speed, hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition skills to make himself a tough out at the plate.

Baseball America believes Lugo will see time in the majors in the near future.

“Lugo isn’t all that far away from competing for a big league job. The former shortstop could end up at second or third base depending on team need. He doesn’t have exceptional upside, but he has a good chance at a solid big league career.”

Hopefully Lugo’s major league career will be more than two days spent in a dugout. On a personal note, I was hoping Lugo was going to head out west with the Tigers during their series in Seattle over the weekend. It would have been a good excuse to head down to Safeco Field (like I really need an excuse to begin with!).

Regardless, watch for Lugo’s picture to be added to the banner of your favourite C’s blog in the near future. He wore a major league uniform during at least one regular season contest and that’s enough to make it to the C’s Plus Baseball “Banner of Fame”.

It’s the same rationale I use for pitcher Sean Reid-Foley for claiming him as a former Vancouver Canadian though he never appeared on the mound during a game. He was at Nat Bailey Stadium in uniform for the 2014 playoffs and that’s good enough for me. This ruling is final! ;D

Sean Reid-Foley at Nat Bailey Stadium during the 2014 Northwest League playoffs.

Here’s a list of the former C’s who have appeared on the website banner so far with the years they spent in Vancouver in parentheses.

  • Marcus Stroman (2012) / Roberto Osuna (2012)
  • Dalton Pompey (2012) / Daniel Norris (2012)
  • Matt Dermody (2013) / Miguel Castro (2014)
  • Franklin Barreto (2014) / Richard Urena (2014)
  • Dwight Smith Jr. (2012) / Chase De Jong (2013)
  • Tim Mayza (2014) / Ian Parmley (2012-2013)
  • Carlos Ramirez (2012) / Taylor Cole (2011-2012)
  • Jairo Labourt (2013-2014) / Tim Locastro (2014)

If you are detecting a pattern, it’s two players for each banner. Who will be the next former Vancouver Canadian to make it to the show? Lugo will need some company up there so hopefully the identity of the next C’s player to reach the bigs will be revealed in the not-too-distant future.


cs-tweetHere’s the latest batch of tweets from or about the Vancouver Canadians from former players, broadcasters, bloggers and other persons of interest. Among the tweets saw some former C’s wish their Moms a Happy Mother’s Day as well as video highlights, player interviews and more Kevin Smith observations about his Lugnuts teammates.

May 12

May 13

 May 14

May 15

 May 16

May 17


May 17

May 18

Posted in Baseball, C's Alumni Update, Vancouver Canadians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

C’s Chat – Kacy Clemens

Vancouver Canadians Kacy Clemens

Kacy Clemens was on base at least once in his first eight professional games in 2017, including a seven-game hitting streak.

cs_chat_new_logo2017 Vancouver Canadians first baseman Kacy Clemens is the latest guest to play pepper in this edition of C’s Chat. The son of Roger Clemens earned his first mid-season promotion as a pro when he was called up to join the Dunedin Blue Jays from the Lansing Lugnuts May 7. The 23 year-old Houston native slashed and impressive .301/.454/.624 with the Lugnuts and was leading the Midwest League with seven home runs at the time of his call-up. He nearly averaged a run batted in and a walk a game in 27 games with 25 RBI and 25 free passes.

Despite the impressive numbers, Clemens admitted he was not expecting to get the call to Dunedin yet.

“It was just post-game after one of our games. My manager just said, ‘Come over to the office.’  I went in there. I wasn’t really sure what it was about. He just said, ‘You know what. Your leadership and your performance on the field has been amazing. I just want to congratulate you on using it. You’ve just been called up to Dunedin. You deserve it and keep doing what you’re doing here and you’ll be fine.’ That’s pretty much how it went down.

I did not think that it was going to come that early. I knew I was doing well. I just kind of had my nose down trying to keep doing what I was doing and see if I can get the attention of everybody to see if I can get called up by maybe the All-Star break or whatever. I was definitely caught off-guard.”

Clemens attributed his success to staying within himself and the play of his teammates.

“Just not trying to do too much. The team we had in Lansing was awesome with a lot of the guys we had in Vancouver. The team chemistry and camaraderie was just something that we kind of fed off each other. We were scoring a lot of runs. I think we were leading the Midwest League in walks. I think hitting is contagious and we were doing really well. I just happened to kind of be in the middle of it. Those guys are awesome. They keep playing at a high level. We will see a few of them in Dunedin as well.”

Though Clemens has not been in Dunedin long, he says he hasn’t seen a huge difference between the Midwest League and the Florida State League.

“I’m back liking the heat again. I don’t know how long I’ll be saying that but the competition level, it hasn’t been much of a difference.”

Vancouver Canadians Kacy Clemens

Kacy Clemens batted .274/.379/.413 with the Vancouver Canadians in 2017.

Clemens on playing in Vancouver

After being drafted in the eighth round of the 2017 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of the University of Texas, Clemens reported to Vancouver and made his professional debut with a walk in four at-bats June 22 against Everett at Nat Bailey Stadium. He saved his first pro hit for a good time the next night when his two-run single snapped a 5-5 tie and lifted the C’s to an eventual 8-5 win over Spokane.

Clemens said it didn’t take long for him to get used to life in pro ball.

“I thought I felt comfortable towards the beginning of the year. It was just an adjustment playing every day, using the wood bat, all of those things kind of take a little bit of time getting used to. Where you can get your routine where you are ready to play every single day as opposed to just playing on the weekends. I don’t really remember a day where I felt like I settled in but I felt like I stepped in and hopefully started making an impact as early as I could.”

Clemens continued to show a knack for timely hitting as he drove in the winning runs in a 15-13 victory in Everett June 27, the same night he collected his first professional home run. The former Texas Longhorn had another good reason to remember that game at Everett Memorial Stadium.

“I just remember I hit my first pro home run in Everett and that was the same stadium where Ken Griffey Jr. hit his so I definitely remember that. It was a very uncharacteristic field as far as the wall is set up and the dimensions. I just remember the ball flew well there and a little bit of a shorter porch. I have good memories of my first pro home run there.”

Clemens would homer in back-to-back games against Everett in that series. He also played a huge role in another come-from-behind victory against the Eugene Emeralds July 2 with a key two-run single.

“That team we had had such good camaraderie and we were fired up every day to play. We did take those games with teams that had the better records and we went at them like it was a very important series. Anytime you can have a big hit and put the team ahead late in the game, I tend to get fired up in those moments and that’s kind of the moments we play for.”

Those victories played a huge role in helping Vancouver clinch the first-half North Division title, something that Clemens relished.

“It was awesome. Once we clinched, it was fun for me because that was kind of our first little ball celebration with the popping the bottles in the clubhouse and what not. All of my teammates getting their fair share of advice and to the coaching staff telling them thank you to getting us to where we were.

I kind of felt weird after that knowing we had already made the playoffs going into the rest of the season with not meaningless games but games that you know, we were kind of ready for the playoffs already but yeah, that was super exciting. It gave us the ability to catch our breath and really get our arms (ready) for the playoffs.”

Clemens said the team’s business-like attitude helped them keep up their strong play in the season’s second half.

“We played every game with the same attitude. Anytime you take the field, you’re not going out there just to mess around. You’re going out there to win the game. We had a bunch of those kind of attitudes on that team. That’s why we were so successful in both halves of the season and obviously with winning the championship.”

Vancouver Canadians Kacy Clemens

Kacy Clemens shares a fist bump with Logan Warmoth (#29) moments after Warmoth’s two-run single in the clinching Game 4 of the Northwest League final.

2017 Playoffs

The C’s got an extra home playoff game thanks to a nearby forest fire that forced Game 1 of the North Division final at Avista Stadium in Spokane to be moved to Vancouver. Clemens said it was a strange situation.

“That was crazy. It was tough to see and tough to kind of breathe really but it got kind of really bad at one point. You couldn’t almost just see past the center field wall with all the smoke. It was kind of just a waiting game of when they were going to call the game. We ended up going back to Vancouver and that was obviously fortunate for us.”

Clemens said it was unusual being the “visiting team” for Game 1 at The Nat.

“It was different. Baseball is a lot about adapting and making adjustments and that was definitely one of them. I just remember getting the guys together and saying, ‘We’re going to have the crowd on our side so let’s just play it like a home game.’ “

Clemens also shared his recollections of the championship final against the Eugene Emeralds.

“I just remember high-energy. Obviously we were that deep in the year. Everybody was grinding at that point but you know what, I figured to get there, you better win the championship. We definitely tried to string it together and we won Game 1, we left Eugene 1-1. We knew we needed to just win one there because we weren’t going to lose at home. Going back to Nat Bailey with one win under our belt was really good and we were bringing it home from there in front of our home crowd of Vancouver.”

Clemens also shared his point of view on the final out of the championship from first base.

“When you’re on defence, your anticipation is just super-high. You want to get that last out so bad. Once (William Ouellette) got the strikeout, I ran straight to the mound to hug Will and hug whoever was coming from third base. I just remember the dugout, our dugout coming flying out of our third base dugout with water and everything. Just jumping up and down with our teammates being super-happy about winning the championship.”

Clemens also reflected on receiving his championship ring.

“It was unbelievable. The ring is huge. It’s awesome. The (team) did a great job on that. I can’t believe I won a championship in my first year especially in front of (all those) fans in Vancouver. That ring will commemorate our whole year so I pumped to have that.”

Vancouver Canadians Kacy Clemens

Kacy Clemens led Vancouver with 95 total bases in 2017. 

Clemens on his rookie season and off-season

Clemens said his first professional season was a learning experience.

“I think the biggest thing is not getting too high or too low. You got a game every single day so regardless what happened the day before, you got to get your mind right for the next day. I learned that my body can handle playing everyday and I learned what routines I need to do before the game and after the game to get my body in the best position to be as close to a hundred percent as possible.

I also learned that you’re going to play the same teams a lot of times. I sometimes jot down some notes about what teams are doing to you and how teams are trying to pitch you and how they’re playing you. Just so you know you can remember each pitcher and kind of remember your at-bats so you’ll have a bit more of an advantage the next time you go up.”

Clemens admitted he was not sure at first about preparing for his first off-season as a pro.

“I didn’t really know exactly what to do, exactly when to start hitting, exactly when to start throwing and all that. This was my first spring training, or getting ready for my first spring training. I talked to my dad and a couple of guys and my brother (Koby Clemens) who played 10 years (in the minors) and figured out a routine, a place to work out and get my body ready. I think I did pretty well and I probably won’t change anything next year.”

Vancouver Canadians Kacy Clemens

Kacy Clemens led the C’s in home runs (4 – with David Jacob), runs batted in (45) and walks (38) in 2017.

Clemons on developing as a hitter

Clemens has a shown a good eye at the plate by drawing a walk in just over 14 percent of this plate appearances with Vancouver in 2017. He bumped that rate up to 21 percent during his time in Lansing.

Plate discipline seems to run in the family as his older brother Koby recorded a .358 on-base percentage in his eight-year minor league career and his younger brother Kody currently has an OBP well above .400 in his junior season with the Texas Longhorns.

“I think just trusting yourself and knowing what pitches that you hit well and knowing what pitches you don’t hit well. With two strikes you got to expand the zone a little bit but up until then, I’m looking for a certain pitch that I can handle.

I think just being patient and not trying to do too much, not trying to get hits or get results and more letting the game come to you and just letting the results come as they do. That’s kind of how I approach hitting and I guess being patient in the box. I didn’t do any drills or anything like that as far as plate discipline. I think it’s just something that I’ve gotten better and better at as I’ve played the game.”

Clemens thrived with hitting in runners in scoring position and in late-and-close situations in Vancouver with .313 and .321 batting averages respectively. Those trends continued in Lansing with marks of .280 and .500. He says he likes it when there are ducks on the pond.

“I like hitting with runners on base because there’s certain situations in the game where I can think about productive outs and think about stuff that I can do to help the team other than get a hit. For example, if there’s runners on first and second and nobody out, I know I got to get those guys into scoring position and I can get out doing that.

With nobody on, I’m not too much of a leadoff hitter. I’d rather hit with guys out there. I feel a bit more comfortable when guys are on base.”

Vancouver Canadians Kacy Clemens

Kacy Clemens made 52 starts at first base for the C’s in 2017.

Clemens on playing first base

Clemens earned rave reviews for his glove-work at first base. He did not make an error in 446 chances with the C’s and only committed one miscue in Lansing before his promotion to Dunedin.

Clemens credits an injury to his shoulder during his high school days at Memorial High School in Houston as the reason for his defensive prowess.

“I think the biggest thing is coming out of high school, I had shoulder surgery and I was actually a pitcher. I got drafted (in the 35th round in 2013) as a pitcher by the (Houston) Astros out of high school. When I went to Texas, I was going there as a two-way player – a pitcher and a hitter. My first freshman fall, I couldn’t swing and I couldn’t throw because of my shoulder surgery so the only thing I could do was take ground balls.

For about three months straight, I took about a hundred ground balls a day over at first base because I knew that’s where they wanted to play me. I developed a really good routine and I just kept working on my hands and my footwork and that’s kind of when I started to become a really good first baseman.”

Clemens said there were a couple of first basemen in the majors he liked to watch.

“I always liked watching Mark Teixeira. I remember watching Carlos Delgado as a kid as far as swinging the bat. I think Mark Teixeira was a pretty good first baseman and I liked watching him play defence.”

Clemens as part of a legacy infield?

Clemens was part of a legacy infield with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and 2016 Vancouver Canadian Cavan Biggio during a spring training game against the Canadian Junior National Team March 16. He hopes it will happen again in the big leagues someday.

“That would be crazy. I don’t think any of us thought the front office thought of that when they drafted all of us. One game in spring training we all played in a big league game and we all started in the infield. We kind of looked at each other and said, ‘You know what. This would be pretty cool if this did happen.’

I don’t know. That’s in the future and a couple of the guys are a little bit closer than I am. Right now, I got my mind focused on what I got to do here in Dunedin.”

A few hours after our chat, Clemens socked his first home run as a Dunedin Blue Jay May 11 with his parents in attendance as part of a 4-3 victory over the Fort Myers Miracle.

My thanks to Kacy Clemens for being the latest guest on C’s Chat. You can follow him on Twitter @KClemens21 ‏. A thank you goes out to Dunedin Blue Jays Media Relations Coordinator Daniel Venn for arranging the interview. He can be found on Twitter @GalapagosDan.

Posted in Baseball, C's Chat, Vancouver Canadians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment