East Tennessee native and Chicago Cubs pitching prospect Trevor Clifton will start the 2017 baseball season at AA Tennessee, the club confirmed Tuesday.
Clifton, 21, was the Cubs' minor league pitcher of the year in 2016 at High-A Myrtle Beach. Clifton posted a 7-7 record and a 2.72 ERA in 23 starts with the Pelicans.
The pitcher shared the news Tuesday on Twitter that he would be pitching for the Smokies.
The Heritage High School alumnus is ranked the no. 7 overall prospect in the Cubs organization and its third-best pitching prospect, according to MLB.com. The Cubs signed him for $375,000 out of high school in the 12th round of the 2013 draft.
Excited to say I'll be starting the year with the TN Smokies.— Trevor clifton (@Tcliff25) April 4, 2017
Clifton avidly followed the Chicago Cubs during their 2016 World Series title run while working out from his home in Blount County.
Heritage High School honored Clifton by retiring his no. 25 baseball jersey at halftime during a school basketball game.
Other top prospects in the Cubs organization who will begin the season at Tennessee include pitcher Duane Underwood (ranked the organization's no. 15 overall prospect by MLB.com), outfielder Jacob Hannemann (no. 25), pitcher Preston Morrison (no. 29), and pitcher Jake Stinnett (no. 30).
The Tennessee Smokies begin their season April 6 at Pensacola. Their home opener is April 12 against the Mississippi Braves.