Harbin at the Helm

CLEMSON – Though he's only a junior, Taylor Harbin is clearly the leader of the Clemson baseball team. He's been a starter since a freshman and as one of the top players in the country he will have a lot to say how the Tigers do this year.

And he's ready for the challenge.

"I'm real excited and just ready to get back out there and build on what we did last year," Harbin said in an interview with CUTigers.com. "Now that we know what it takes to get back to Omaha, we're just trying to build on what we did last year and just focus on doing good in the regular season and try to defend our ACC Championship, but definitely taking that next step to winning the national championship."

If Clemson, which starts the season Feb. 16, is to get back to the College World Series, Harbin could be the biggest reason why.

"I don't take it as being more pressure, I just kind of take it on myself as a challenge to be out there and be a leader for the team by going out and playing hard every day and show the young guys what it takes to play at this level and to get back to Omaha," he said. "I feel like if I just play my best and stay within my game, the rest of the stuff will just work itself out in the end."

His fielding at second base is nearly perfect, committing just six errors last year, while putting together a fielding percentage of .982. There's no reason those type of numbers should change this year.

Hitting, however, is another story.

Harbin hopes to drastically improve some of his numbers from last year.

Harbin smacked just nine homers and drove in 47 runs. Though he still finished with a .319 batting average, he struggled through much of the season and was dropped in the order several different times.

Compare that to his freshman season when he batted .343, hit 10 home runs and had 63 RBIs, and it's easy to see how 2006 was disappointing.

"Things have been real good this year," Harbin said. "Last year, I was coming off that hamstring injury at the first of the year and it set me back a little bit. But now, I've been really focused on building my strength up and just doing a lot more stretching and really working on different aspects of my game to get better. This year, I really feel comfortable going in."

That's great news for Clemson and Harbin, who has been under the microscope of major league scouts since he was setting the all-time South Carolina high school home run record.

And now that he'll be eligible at the end of the season for the draft, Harbin is doing his best to worry about being a Tiger and not the future.

"I can't say that I haven't thought about it because it definitely crosses your mind," he said of making it to the big leagues. "But you just have to do your best to stay focused on the task at hand. I've still got another year (as a senior) and we've got this season ahead of us. … That's the first thing on my mind right now."

CUTigers.com Top Stories