Robinson Grad in Spring Training with the Astros

Paul Clemens' spring includes training with the Astros and the birth of his first child.

Paul Clemens knew that his first spring training with the Houston Astros would be eventful.

A right-handed relief pitcher and , Clemens was traded by the Atlanta Braves to Houston in July 2011. He enters this year as the no. 5 prospect in the Houston farm system, according to Baseball America.

"I don't have anything to worry about. I am staying quiet and listening to what I can," said Clemens, standing in the Houston clubhouse before a spring training game in Kissimmee, Fla., against the Detroit Tigers on March 11. "Anytime the skipper (Brad Mills) gives me the ball I try to get three outs as quickly as I can."

His spring training became more eventful when his wife, Marlee, gave birth to their first child, a girl named Gracelee, in early March. Clemens spent a few days away from the team for the event. The couple spent most of the off-season in Oxford, Penn., where Clemens' parents live. Marlee has been in Georgia since late February, when Clemens came to Florida for spring training.

Clemens, 24, said he hopes his family can join him in Florida before spring training is over. Clemens pitched in the minor leagues at the Class AA level with Atlanta last season, then played at the Class AA and AAA level for Houston after the trade that sent big league outfielder Michael Bourn from Houston to Atlanta.

Clemens, with a fastball in the high 90s and an ERA of 4.09 in his pro career, could make his big league debut this year. Could he make the opening day roster of the Houston Astros? "I don't know. That is up in the air. I try not to worry about that. I try to get three outs as quickly as possible. Whatever role they want me to do I will do," he said. "I just want to execute my pitches."

If he does not make the big league team, Clemens most likely would begin the minor league season with Class AAA Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League. While in big league camp Clemens, drafted out of Louisburg Junior College in North Carolina by the Atlanta Braves organization in 2008 as a seventh round pick, has been able to talk pitching with Astros veterans Brett Myers, Bud Norris, David Carpenter and Livan Hernandez, a former player for the Washington Nationals.

"Those four guys have helped me a lot. It is more of a mental thing and being more self-aware of what you are throwing and what you have to do year in and year out," Clemens said of being at a high level. Last year Houston lost a club-record 106 games and finished 40 games back in the National League Central division.

But Clemens is quick to defend his teammates. "This club has a lot of talent. ...I would be very wary for any newspaper to talk down about this club," said Clemens, who did not allow a hit or run in one inning in his first spring appearance. "They can play. The hitters are locked in. This club is going to surprise a lot of people, with or without me. I hope to be part of it. We are not going to be a pushover by any means."

One of the new faces in Houston is infielder Jed Lowrie, who has playoff experience with the Boston Red Sox. "He seems like a true professional," Clemens said. "I am impressed with the way he handles his business."

No matter what happens in spring training, Clemens could make his big league debut this season. "I can only control what I can control. It is daily preparation. I will attack these (hitters) like there is no tomorrow."

theburgudelladodgers April 09, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Paul your the reason I went to the burg... When I walked up for my visit I saw you takin groundballs at short an I thought in my head damn I gotta compete wit this kid?? Makin back handed plays an jumpin off your back foot an throwin seeds to first before coach AT flipped on you... But I appreciate your advice that day it helped me reach my goal an get drafted too.. good luck this year Houston would be dumb not to bring you up, some of these bloggers say your 92 94 I saw you hit triple digets myself.. good luck ... Logan gallagher / hunter ackerman


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