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For the past three seasons, the Michigan baseball team has had at least one player selected in the first three rounds of the MLB draft. This year, junior outfielder Clark Elliott seems to have a chance to continue that streak. 

Elliott is coming off a stellar 2021 season. As a freshman, the left-handed hitter and Illinois native worked his way into the starting lineup, and he has since become a staple in the Wolverines’ batting order. Elliott is ranked as the top Big Ten prospect according to d1baseball.com and is one of only two Big Ten players in the top 50.

Although the 2020 season was cut short due to COVID, Elliott managed to find a brief rhythm in his freshman campaign. In 15 games, he posted a .245 batting average and .369 on base percentage. Both figures were good for fourth highest on the team among players with at least one plate appearance per game.

During the 2021 season, he continued to make his mark. In his first full season, Elliott posted a .270 batting average, a .403 on base percentage and a team-leading eight stolen bases.

Aiming to make another leap in what could be his final season with the Wolverines, Elliott has worked hard during the offseason to ensure that this year will be his best yet.

“(I worked on) just fine tuning my strengths overall as a hitter,” Elliott said. “Working on a lot of defensive stuff since that’s definitely an area of growth for me. Having the coaching staff help me have a more well-rounded game has been super beneficial.”

Eliott has always led by example with his dominant play, but this will be his first year to take on more of a leadership role as an upperclassman. Young players instinctively look up to the more experienced members of the team, and Elliott will have a whole class of young sluggers eager to soak up his advice.

The shortened 2021 MLB draft — along with the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to COVID — brings about one of the oldest ever Michigan teams. The Wolverines have several veterans hoping to lead the team to its first Big Ten championship since 2015 and make another run at the College World Series.

“We have a lot of experience coming in,” Elliott said. “I remember my freshman year we had great core leadership and they were older guys as well. This team is going to have great older leaders on the field, too.”

Although Michigan has fallen short of its 2019 heights in the past two years, the 2022 season is an opportunity for this experienced core to pass the torch. The seniors and coaches who were around for the deep College World Series run know the work required to get there. And with the Wolverines having a number of players ranked in the top 20 in the conference, they’re ready for the task.

“Seeing those accolades is a nice thing, but we’ve known for years coming that this is going to be a really special team,” Elliott said.

With the team gearing up for their first series in Arlington this weekend, one thing is clear.

Clark Elliott is ready.