Texas A&M baseball coach Rob Childress loves to find his "type" of player. He doesn't just look for good baseball players. He wants a tough kid—especially when it comes to pitchers. He wants to make sure they can handle his kind of practices, and more importantly, handle the tough situations that come with being a pitcher in the Big 12 Conference.
Tulsa, Okla., pitcher Denny Clement might be the perfect fit.
In addition to being a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher, Clement is also a wrestler, and played tailback and outside linebacker for Cascia Hall high school.
But toughness isn't the only thing that Clement brings to the Aggies. He also knows how to win—and win big.
Clement is a three-time state champion wrestler, who also played tailback and outside linebacker for Cascia Hall's state championship team last year. He then capped off the school year by leading his baseball team to the state semi-finals.
"Denny is a competitor," said David Warburton, Clement's high school coach. "Whatever he does, he's focused. I think a lot of that has to do with his wrestling background and getting ready for a one-on-one type competition. Pitching is very similar. It's you against the batter."
Clement has won 20 games for Cascia Hall the last two seasons, and posted an 11-2 record with an ERA of 0.68 with 136 strikeouts in 72 innings of work on the mound this season. He also hit .409 with seven homers as the team's leadoff hitter.
"He was our catalyst," Warburton said. "He was our leadoff guy and we looked to him to get things started for us."
Warburton, who just finished his second season at Cascia Hall, after 30 years as a head coach at another Tulsa area high school, said that many credit him with getting to state. But he refuses to take credit for what Clement and the six other seniors have done on the field.
"If you don't have good players you're not going to be successful," he said. "All I did was get those kids out and made them work and teach them the game and we were able to do what we did and a lot of that was due to Denny and the other six seniors that I lost this year."
Warburton has had several major league baseball prospects come through his program over the last three decades, and he expects the same from Clement, who turned down a chance to be drafted in the seventh round by the Pittsburgh Pirates to experience the college game.
But Warburton believes he'll have another shot after his time at A&M.
"His numbers show over four years as a starter that he's the kind of guy that wants to strike guys out, and I know that he's going to have to learn a whole new situation at A&M because it's a whole other level. But he'll be able to adapt to that," Warburton said. "Barring injuries and things like that I see Denny going to the pros after his college career and having a real shot at being a big-league pitcher."
An entire fan base and coaching staff in College Station would be fine with that.
SIGNEE SPOTLIGHT: Denny Clement
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