Newest Jay: Howie Clark

Tuesday, May 27 2003 @ 09:45 AM EDT

Contributed by: robertdudek

Howie Clark has played every position but pitcher in his professional career. Carlos Tosca has been reluctant to give call-ups Jason Kershner, Brian Bowles and now Josh Towers more than limited action in low-risk situations, so don't expect Clark to get a lot of playing time. The Jays will likely have Bordick start the lion share of games at third base, with Berg spelling him. Nevertheless, Clark's lefty bat could be useful coming off the bench in pinch-hitting situations.

Clark is a career minor leaguer who made his major league debut with Baltimore last year at the age of 28. He's been in the Orioles' organisation until this year, with the exception of 2001, which he spent in the Mexican League and the (Independent) Western League.

Clark has shown average or slightly below-average power with very good control of the strike-zone. His walk rate has been solidly above average. Here are his composite numbers in the Baltimore system.

Level ----------(years)--------- games - PA - Power - BipAvg - Walks - K rate
Low Minors --- (1992-1995) ------- 318 1179 -- .105 -- .306 -- .099 -- .144
AA Bowie ----- (1996-2000) -------- 372 1384 -- .117 -- .305 -- .094 -- .110
AAA Rochester (1998-2000,2002) - 271 1107 -- .111 -- .300 -- .097 -- .070

His improvement in avoiding strikeouts is the most interesting aspect of Clark's career to date. Striking out in only 7% of one's opportunties (as he did in AAA) would put a player among the A.L. leaders most years. Clark is 41 of 79 in minor league steal attempts, so don't expect much more than station to station baserunning.

Side note: the Jays have gone from a pen of 4 righties and 3 lefties to 6 righties and 1 lefty. That hasn't stopped the manager from making frequent pitching changes.