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RedHawks' Koby Clemens carries on in the family business

Koby's father, legendary pitcher Roger Clemens, wasn't exactly known for his care-free attitude. But an intensity for baseball is apparent in the Rocket's son as well.
BY RYAN ABER, Staff Writer, raber@opubco.com Modified: June 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm •  Published: June 16, 2011
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He was drafted as a third baseman, moved to catcher in 2008 and to first base last year.

This season for the RedHawks, he's played the majority of his games at first but has also seen time at third and in left field.

Having grown up around the game, it's natural that Koby would want to follow in his father's baseball-playing footsteps.

But he never gave serious consideration to becoming a pitcher after pitching some in youth baseball and then occasionally pitching in high school.

“I ended up having to pitch a little but just because I could throw hard but I really didn't have any other pitches,” Clemens said. “I just powered through and got by some high school hitters. But I always loved hitting overall. It wasn't anything like, ‘Oh, my dad's a pitcher so I don't want to do that' and my dad never pressured me to pitch.”

There was a time in high school when he thought baseball might not even be his game, much less pitching. He starred in baseball and football before a back injury ended his football career before it really took off.

When he was a junior, he decided to go all-in with baseball, asking for his father's help.

“He always reiterated with me and my other brothers that if you want to play baseball, I can show you the way to do it, how to work hard and everything. If you choose to do it, though, we're going to go all out,” Clemens said. “And that was a great lesson. He never pressured me to pitch or play a position or anything, it's whatever I wanted to do and then he just pushed me and got me where I am.”

Coming out of high school, Clemens had signed to follow in his dad's footsteps once again by playing at the University of Texas.

But when it was the hometown Astros that picked him — the team that Koby had cheered for even before his dad signed with Houston in 2004 — the decision was clear that it was time to start his pro career.

“Me being naive out of high school, I thought it was going to be a lot shorter path,” Clemens said. “I thought I was going to get there quick and then I realized how hard this game really is. It's going good though. I've had a lot of steps to get to this point now and I've learned so much. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes, with all these steps that I've taken, it's just going to better prepare me for when I do get my call-up that I'll have a chance to stay there longer.”

RedHawks reliever Wesley Wright has known Clemens since they played winter ball together in Hawaii five years ago.

“He doesn't really expect anything to be given to him,” Wright said. “That was the most refreshing thing for me because I've been around people that have a sense of entitlement and he definitely doesn't have that and he's been a joy to have on the team.”

Some of his teammates weren't sure what to think before they met him.

Koby quickly wins them over.

“He was one of the nicest kids I've ever met,” RedHawks pitcher David Carpenter said. “He comes from a first-class family. I feel real fortunate to be able to call those people friends or acquaintances and couldn't ask to be around a better guy.”


KOBY CLEMENS BIO

Age: 24

Birthplace: Houston

Height: 5-11

Weight: 200

Bats/Throws: Right

Parents: Roger and Debbie Clemens

Drafted: 8th round, 2005 by the Astros

Notable: Won the California League batting title in 2009, hitting .345 and leading all minor league players with 123 RBIs. ... Was named the Astros' organization's Offensive Player of the Year that year. ... Was Double-A Corpus Christi's Co-Player of the Year last year, leading the Hooks in home runs, RBIs, double, runs and slugging percentage.

FATHER-SON DUOS

Koby Clemens is far from the only son of an ex-major leaguer working his way through the minors. Here are some of the more notable ones:

Bob and Michael Brenly

The younger Brenly, a catcher like his father, is in his second season with Class A Daytona in the Cubs system.

Delino and Delino DeShields Jr.

The 8th overall pick of the Astros in 2010, the 18-year-old has struggled at the plate so far at Class A Lexington.

Lenny and Cutter Dykstra

Dykstra moves to the Nationals organization this year after hitting .312 for Wisconsin last year in the Brewers organization.

Ron and Toby Gardenhire

The son of the Okmulgee native and current Twins manager is on the cusp of breaking through, playing his first full season at Triple-A Rochester in the Twins' system.

Garth and Cale Iorg

The shortstop, whose uncle Dane also played in the majors, is hitting .225 for Triple-A Toledo.

Don and Preston Mattingly

The son of the Dodgers manager and former Yankee standout is playing in the Dodgers' organization at Class A Great Lakes.

Jim and Chad Tracy

Tracy played last season for the RedHawks, breaking through with big numbers in his first Triple-A stint before injuries prematurely ended his season.

Andy and Scott Van Slyke

The outfielder has made Triple-A appearances in the last two seasons but has been assigned to Double-A Chattanooga.

Tim, Brett and Matt Wallach

Matt is in Double-A with the Dodgers, the organization which is father works for as a third-base coach. Matt was drafted by the Dodgers but traded to the Cubs, where he's pitched for Class A Daytona.

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