Heading into the abbreviated five-round 2020 Major League Baseball Draft that took place two weeks ago, many experts believed Clemson baseball commitment Caden Grice could be a second- or third-round pick.
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound first baseman and left-handed pitcher from Riverside High School in Greer, S.C., indeed had the opportunity to be drafted but could not come to an agreement with a MLB club prior to the draft and therefore elected to come to Clemson to continue his baseball career.
“I had the chance to have my name called this year, I just turned it down,” Grice told The Clemson Insider. “I think Clemson’s the best option for me, and it’ll give me the best chance to grow.”
“I think going to Clemson is just the best decision for me,” he continued. “I’ve heard a lot of good things and I know the coaching staff up there has my best interests, and I’m just really excited to get there.”
Clemson head coach Monte Lee said Monday that Grice could have signed for a “significant amount of money” but valued his education and the opportunity to attend Clemson.
Grice’s decision to put off the major leagues and stick with his Clemson commitment came as great news for Lee and the Tigers, who saw starting pitchers Sam Weatherly and Spencer Strider get drafted and closer Carson Spiers sign a free-agent deal after the draft.
“They’re just really excited to have me and they can’t wait for me to get on campus,” Grice said of Clemson’s staff.
In May, Grice was named the 2019-20 Gatorade South Carolina Baseball Player of the Year after batting .353 for Riverside this spring and belting three home runs while driving in four runs before the season was cancelled. A Rawlings-Perfect Game 2020 Preseason First Team All-Atlantic Region selection, Grice led his Canes National 17U team to the World Wood Bat Association national championship this past fall.
Grice also helped Riverside to a 20-9 record and the district finals in 2019, hitting .397 with two home runs and 20 RBI, while posting a 2-0 record and 0.96 ERA on the mound to earn all-state honors.
Scouts are split on whether Grice will end up a hitter or a pitcher at the professional level. A lot of scouts have rated Grice as having 80-grade power, the highest mark on the 20-80 scouting scale, and some scouts see him as a potential frontline starter as well with his solid repertoire that consists of a four-seam and two-seam fastball, changeup and curveball. His changeup is his best pitch, and his fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 94.
Lee said Grice profiles at first base — because of the fact he pitches, too, and the Tigers want to protect his arm – but he also has the athleticism to play in the outfield if they need him to.
Grice says he is willing to serve in whatever capacity he can that gives Clemson the best chance to win.
“They’re getting the hardest worker,” he said. “I just go out there with a dog mentality and all I want to do is win and help the team.”
Typically, Grice would already be on campus at Clemson right now with other players in the program. Generally, incoming freshmen report to campus during second summer session, which started on Monday, so they can get acclimated to being a college student.
But this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, freshmen baseball players will not be able to report to campus until Aug. 8, 11 days before fall classes begin.
“It kind of sucks. I was really excited to get up there and get acclimated to the program and just start doing everything that they have for me,” Grice said. “But I’m still getting my work in, still doing everything I need to here and playing legion ball just to stay on top of everything.”
After committing to Clemson several years ago, Grice can’t wait to move in and start his career as a Tiger in a couple of months.
“I’m pumped,” he said. “I committed freshman year and I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since.”
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