Some day soon, another Clemens might be in the starting rotation for the Houston Astros. Top Astros' prospect Paul Clemens is not related to Roger, but it's a question he is often asked.
“I have heard it pretty much since the day I was drafted,” said the 24-year-old RedHawks hurler. “No relation, but I used to try to convince myself that we were related so that I could make myself feel I could make it to the major leagues.”
Clemens is just one step away from the majors now, starting the season for the first time at the Triple-A level. The 6-foot-4 right-hander throws a fastball in mid-90s and was one of the top 30 prospects for the Atlanta Braves before being traded to Houston last season.
Clemens was one of four players the Braves gave up at the trade deadline in exchange for Houston outfielder Michael Bourn. Clemens said the Braves woke him up that morning to give him news.
“I was dead asleep, it was probably 6:30 or 7 in the morning when I got a knock on the door, maybe earlier,” Clemens said. “It caught me more off-guard more or less. I knew that maybe somebody would be traded. We had a really good staff there in Double A. Going into last season, we were ranked the best pitching staff in all of the minor leagues. We had such a good staff in Double A, we knew somebody could be gone.”
Clemens was the opening night starter Thursday for the RedHawks and will take the mound Tuesday night against Nashville for his second start of the season. He is rated by Baseball America as the Astros' No. 5 prospect.
“I take all that will a grain of salt,” Clemens said. “I have never really bought into the whole prospect thing. You still got to perform. You still got to execute your pitches. It's good for eye candy for people.”
Clemens, who grew up in Virginia where his father worked for the FBI, made 20 starts last season for the Braves' Double-A affiliate Mississippi where he was a Southern League All-Star.
Clemens has always thrown with velocity but in recent years has improved his command of the curve ball and off-speed pitches.