Kacy: The Fisher Cats first baseman already has the baseball pedigree.
MANCHESTER — As a 4-year-old hanging out in MLB clubhouses with his dad, Kacy Clemens thought there were only two types of people: players and fans. That’s when he knew that he wanted to play baseball.
Now 24 years old, Clemens, who is the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, made his Double-A debut with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Thursday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in the team’s season opener against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
Clemens, who has three brothers, was selected in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Blue Jays, the same team his dad played for from 1997-98.
Roger began his MLB career in Boston, starring on the mound for the Red Sox from 1984-96 before later playing for the Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros.
Clemens, a first baseman, knows that his famous last name brings extra focus and scrutiny on his game. It is something the Houston native has dealt with his whole life.
“Anytime you see somebody with a last name of somebody who has came before them and done really well, there are expectations and I definitely understand that,” Clemens said at the Fisher Cats’ media day on Tuesday. “I know that I’m going to get whoever’s facing me’s best stuff because it’s me. I know I’m going to be ridiculed or criticized more however I play but that’s what comes with it and it’s been a blessing to be the son of somebody who’s performed at such an amazing level and I like to say he’s a better dad than he ever was a player.”
While he is proud of his father’s accomplishments, the University of Texas product does not want to be viewed any differently because of his lineage.
“I try to just be Kacy out here,” Clemens said. “That’s how I normally introduce myself because I don’t want people to have expectations of me as soon as I meet them. I want them to realize that I’m a human being as well and I’m just like everybody out here.”
Clemens is one of four in his family to play pro baseball. His older brother, Koby, 32, played eight minor-league seasons, including 41 games for New Hampshire in 2012. Younger brother Kody, 22, is an infielder in the Detroit Tigers’ system.
Clemens spent last season in Single-A, playing in 27 games with Class-A Lansing (Mich.) and 93 with Advanced-A Dunedin (Fla.). The left-handed batter recorded a .301 average, seven home runs, 25 RBIs, 25 runs scored and 25 walks while with Lansing. In Dunedin, Clemens batted .211 with five home runs, 40 RBIs, 46 runs scored and 38 walks.
Just days after Clemens and his dad set up his Lansing apartment last season, Clemens received his promotion to Dunedin.
“I called him and I said, ‘Hey dad,’” Clemens said. “I felt bad because I was like, ‘Man, I love you and I just wanted to tell you that I’m getting called up. I know we’re pumped but at the same time, we’ve got to move all this stuff.’”
While Clemens flew to Florida to join his new team, Roger flew back to Michigan, packed up his son’s belongings and drove them in Clemens’ car down to Dunedin.
“I loved it and it just proves his work ethic and him being a father,” Clemens said. “Him and my mom (Debbie) have just been so awesome and I’m thankful for that and I’m the man I am today because of them.”
First-year Fisher Cats manager Mike Mordecai, who played against Roger during his 12-year MLB career, is anxious to see what Clemens can do at the Double-A level. Mordecai said the report he received from others within the organization is that Clemens is a battler.
“He shows up to compete every day, which is great,” Mordecai said before Thurday’s season opener. “That’s what we try to instill in all of them and he does that...I think his dad probably rubbed off on him in that capacity so that’s good.”
Mordecai said Clemens and Chad Spanberger will start the season swapping off first base and designated hitter duties. Clemens batted seventh as the Fisher Cats’ DH Thursday. Mordecai said the team is working with Clemens, offensively, on taking a shorter, more direct path to the ball.
“A guy like him that’s got some power, sometimes they try to reach back a little more to get that power and that works against them,” Mordecai said. “So a more direct line and a shorter, quicker swing is going to pay dividends for him.”
Clemens knows it is cliche but his goals for this season are simply to get better each day and work to prove to Toronto he is a major leaguer — just like his dad was.
“I’m just trying to come out here and compete and show the Blue Jays that hopefully I’m qualified to play in the big leagues one day and whenever that call may come, it’ll come,” Clemens said.