Spokane outfielder LeDarious Clark went 1 for 5 with a double yesterday, dropping his average, for the first time since the early part of the season, below .300. Clark is now hitting .299/.358/.533 on the year, and is 7th in the Northwest League in OPS, 4th in steals, and 2nd in home runs.
Its a nice performance for a later round pick (12th round in 2015) from a smaller school (University of West Florida, whose most prominent major league alumni was reliever Jeff Farnsworth, who spent the 2002 season with the Tigers), and has put Clark on the map as someone to keep an eye on when he debuts in full season ball next year, likely in Hickory.
But it is how he's compiled that slash line that is particularly fascinating, at least to me. Clark was incredible for first three weeks of the season, putting up a .436/.500/.731 line in 92 plate appearance over 19 games. After going hitless in his first pro game, he took an 18 game hitting streak into a four game set against the Hillsboro Hops.
And then promptly failed to even get on base in any of the four games against Hillsboro, putting up an 0 for 18 with 9 Ks.
Clark seemed to immediately put that behind him, though going 15 for 34 with a ,441/.457/.941 line with 3 homers over his next 7 games against the Tri-City Dust Devils and the Boise Hawks, and giving him a season line of .377/.428/.685, as he dominated the Northwest League leaderboards.
Since then? a .111/.186/.167 line over 60 plate appearances in his last 14 games, including a 7 game hitless streak where he went 0 for 23.
To call Clark "streaky" this season would be underselling things.
So what do the Rangers have in LeDarious Clark? T.R. Sullivan had a write-up on Clark when the Rangers drafted him, that included this quote from his Juco coach:
"Freakishly athletic, the combination of speed and power is different," East Mississippi coach Chris Rose said. "His game needs polish, but his tools and competitiveness are unquestionable. Clark played his best in the biggest moments of our season."
Sullivan also talks about Clark's football background, and how he switched to baseball full time only after his freshman year in college. Clark has shown the power, the speed and the tools so far this season, as well as the lack of polish (illustrated by his 51 Ks in 205 plate appearances). Clark also was benched for not running out a pop-up earlier this season, although that's not an uncommon occurrence in the minors, especially the lower levels.
Clark is someone to keep an eye on over the final few weeks...it will be interesting to see how he finishes things out, and what the reports from the Instructional League say about him. The Rangers have had a knack for finding intriguing players who place themselves on the prospect map in the later rounds, and Clark looks like he could be the latest example.