Baseball Assistant Coach
Sherard Clinkscales – a standout pitcher at Purdue and a former
Kansas City Royals top prospect who later spent 10 years
in Major League scouting – is embarking on his third season as
a Notre Dame assistant coach. Clinkscales serves as the Irish
pitching coach while also assisting with recruiting and overseeing
the program[apos]s student welfare operation.
During his first full year at Notre Dame, Clinkscales helped
the Irish attract the nation[apos]s fourth-ranked recruiting class while
also making a positive impact on several of the Notre Dame
pitchers. Most notably, David Phelps rebounded from a rocky
freshman season to become a first team all-BIG EAST performer
in 2007 – when he won eight games and compiled a
1.88 ERA, with 102 strikeouts, only 30 walks and 96 hits
allowed in 110.1 innings.
Clinkscales also had a profound impact on another righthander,
Joey Williamson, whose strong junior season in 2007
(2.81, 53 Ks, 16 BB, 51.1 IP) led to him being drafted and signed
by the Colorado Rockies. Current junior Eric Maust (3.65, 32
Ks, 7 BB, 44.1 IP) also quickly excelled under the watchful eye
of Clinkscales while compiling a 4.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio and
a lowly rate of 1.4 walks per 9.0 innings (both marks rank
among the best in Irish baseball history).
Clinkscales[apos] efforts with the pitching staff were even more
evident in 2008. Notre Dame was the only team in the BIG
EAST Conference to place its entire weekend rotation on the
all-league ballot.Wade Korpi (6-3, 3.59) and Maust (6-3, 4.52)
were each second-team selections, while Phelps (5-5, 4.65) was
an honorable-mention choice. Clinkscales[apos] also was instrumental
in the development of freshmen hurlers[apos] Ryan Sharpley, Brian Dupra, Evan Danieli,Todd Miller and Cole Johnson. The quintet
combined to make 16 starts for the Irish and posted a 9-8
record with a 4.50 ERA in 160.0 innings of work. They fanned
122 and walked 56.
Major League baseball also noticed Clinkscales[apos] work as the
Irish had five members of their pitching staff drafted in the top
24 rounds of the 2008 MLB draft. The previous record for Notre
Dame pitchers drafted was three (2006; Jeff Samardzija, Jeff
Manship,Tom Thorton). After Kyle Weiland was selected on the
first day (third round, Boston Red Sox), Phelps, Korpi, Brett
Graffy and Sam Elam were all taken between the 14th and 24th
A record-setting strikeout ace at Purdue, Clinkscales was the
31st pick in the 1992 Major League draft, going to the Royals
as a compensatory pick after the first round. The Royals also
selected future big leaguers Michael Tucker, Jim Pittsley, Johnny
Damon and Jon Lieber within the first 44 picks of the [apos]92 draft.
After injuries cut short his playing career, Clinkscales parlayed
his connections into a position with the Atlanta Braves as an
area-scouting supervisor (1997-99).The Indianapolis native later
was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays assistant director of scouting
(1999-2001) and returned to the Braves as an area scouting
supervisor (2001-05) before being promoted to the position of
professional scout in 2005-06.
The son of former minor-league baseball player Lester
Clinkscales – a left-handed pitcher who reached triple-A
Indianapolis during an 11-year career in the White Sox organization
– the younger Clinkscales was an all-county pitcher at
Brebeuf Jesuit High School. He also was an all-county point
guard for the BJHS basketball team that beat powerhouse Pike
in the 1989 sectionals before losing on a last-second shot to a
Lawrence North squad led by future North Carolina standout
Eric Montross. His teammates at Brebeuf Jesuit included future
NBA player Alan Henderson.
Clinkscales was a scholarship baseball player at Purdue while
also playing for Gene Keady[apos]s 1989-90 basketball
team, as an invited walk-on (he turned
down full scholarship offers from D-I basketball
schools). His breakout baseball season came as a
junior, earning ABCA all-region and first team
all-Big Ten Conference honors while leading
longtime coach Dave Alexander[apos]s 1992 squad in
ERA (2.34), strikeouts (87), wins (7), complete
games (9) and innings (80.2). He earlier was
invited to attend tryouts for the 1991 United
States Olympic team.
His pro career included playing with the single-
A Eugene (Ore.) Emeralds and Rockford
(Ill.) Royals, before being released in 1995. He
earlier returned to Purdue to complete his requirements before graduating in 1994 with a degree in history.
Clinkscales was contacted in 1996 by then Atlanta Braves
assistant general manager Dean Taylor (now Vice President-
Baseball Operations/Assistant General Manager of the Kansas
City Royals) and made a strong impression in his interview with
GM John Schuerholz and director of scouting Paul Snyder, a
legend in the scouting community. Clinkscales went on to serve
in 1997 as the Braves[apos] area scouting supervisor for the mid-
Atlantic region and held the same title in 1998-99 for the
Midwest region. In his mid-Atlantic position, Clinkscales
replaced Dayton Moore – who has gone on to become assistant
GM for the Braves and general manager of the Royals.
The role of area scouting supervisor involved overseeing
evaluations of high school and college players, with associate
scouts reporting directly to Clinkscales. He also handled scouting
big-league clubs during those years.
Clinkscales first crossed paths with the current Notre Dame
head coach in 1998, when Dave Schrage was at Northern Iowa.
The Braves later used their seventh-round pick in 1998 to select
UNI[apos]s Scott Sobkowiack, who pitched with the big-league club
before career-ending elbow surgery.
The fall of 1999 saw Clinkscales become assistant director of
scouting with a Devil Rays franchise owned by Notre Dame
graduate Vince Naimoli. He evaluated elite players nationwide
while coordinating draft operations and handling all budgeting
for domestic and international scouting. While in Tampa, he
completed a 2001 executive training program and worked
alongside respected talent evaluator Dan Jennings (now the
Florida Marlins Vice President, Player Personnel and Assistant
Clinkscales returned to the Braves in the fall of 2001 and
served four years as an area-scouting supervisor in Indiana,
Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. Clinkscales[apos] most recent position
of professional scout included evaluating minor-leaguers in the
Carolina and Midwest leagues. He also served as an advance
scout in the 2004-05 playoffs, providing a complete scouting
report of the Boston Red Sox.
In the role of professional scout, Clinkscales – who was
instrumental in signing Australian National Team standout and
eventual Major League pitcher Peter Moylan – reported directly
to Schuerholz and Moore, who accepted his new post with the
Royals in 2006.
During recent off-seasons, Clinkscales worked alongside cofounder
Scott McGowan with After Sport Group, an organization
that conducts on-campus career workshops for
Clinkscales emerged as one of the nation[apos]s top prospects as
a junior at Purdue. The three-year starter compiled a 5.01 career
ERA and 14-14 record in 41 appearances (36 starts), with 190
strikeouts, 173 walks and 38 more innings pitched (196) than
hits allowed (158). His 14 complete games included three solo
shutouts and a no-hitter. He still owns Purdue[apos]s top career
strikeout average (8.72 Ks/9 IP), ranks fourth in fewest hits
allowed per 9.0 innings (7.26, best since [apos]71) and eighth in
strikeouts (190, most among three-year players).
His 1992 season ranks among the best ever at Purdue, as he
tied team records for strikeouts (87) and complete games (9)
while posting a 2.34 ERA that is second-best in the record book
and tops in the past 40 years. His 1992 strikeout average (9.71/9
IP) was best in Purdue history and now ranks second, while his
6.0 hits allowed per 9.0 IP is best by a Purdue pitcher since the
late 1960s (sixth overall).
After compiling similar seasons in 1990 (6.13, 4-6, 55 Ks, 57
BB, 48 H in 61.2 IP), and 1991 (7.71, 3-4, 48 Ks, 58 BB, 56 H,
53.2 IP), Clinkscales had the breakout that earned him the second-
most votes for 1992 Big Ten pitcher of the year. During his
junior season, Purdue split a pair of games versus a 1992 Notre
Dame squad that featured future big leaguers Craig Counsell
and Chris Michalak.
Clinkscales was a member of the 1989-90 Purdue basketball
team that finished as Big Ten runner-up and lost to Texas in the
NCAAs. His teammate and roommate on the road was Matt
Painter, now head coach of the Boilermakers.
He and his wife, the former Trisha Lashan Smith (a graduate
of Ball State), were married in 1995 and are the parents of
a son, Alex (10), and a daughter, Tara (9).