Clemson has a good problem on its hands with quality depth in the bullpen and at the plate as it prepares to start a new season in a few weeks.
The Tigers return 95-percent of their starters from last season when they jumped out to a 14-3 start before the COVID-19 pandemic led to the rest of the season being canceled. This offseason, they added the No. 16 recruiting class in the country.
Highlighting the group this fall was freshman Caden Grice, a two-way player, who brings power at the plate and a terrific young arm on the mound.
Clemson head coach Monte Lee spoke highly of Grice in his preseason press conference last week that signaled the start of spring practice. Grice has the potential to start on the mound as a weekend starter and also provide depth for the Tigers at first base or as a designated hitter.
“He has extra-base damage written all over him, he is incredibly strong. When he touches the ball, he can hit it out from pole-to-pole he can hit it a long long way. He is raw as a hitter and is going to swing and miss some and strikeout some,” Lee said. “He is a better pure hitter right now than the fall, he is also a really good defender and has made strides at first base. He is a human eclipse over there, if you throw it in the area he should be able to catch it because he is 6-foot-6.”
Another freshman pitcher that has impressed Lee is Τy Olenchuk, a right handed pitcher out of Dutch Fork High School in Irmo, S.C. Lee sees Olenchuk as a future star and said he is currently battling for a spot as a midweek starter.
“I think Olenchuk is going to be a star, I really do, his stuff is good. He is 92-94 and his breaking ball is getting better,” the Clemson coach said. “He’s also one of those guys who thinks he’s really good too and that’s a huge part of the battle to have confidence, swagger and toughness. Ty is definitely that guy, he is a bulldog.”
Cooper Ingle entered Clemson as the No. 24 catcher in America according to Perfect Game. Ingle had an impressive fall and is competing to fill in at catcher in the wake of an arm injury suffered by Adam Hackenberg that could keep him in the dugout early in the season.
Clemson hosts Cincinnati from Feb. 19-21 on opening weekend at Doug Kingsmore Stadium as it begins the 2021 campaign.