Caden Grice is expected to do most of the heavy lifting in the middle of Clemson’s lineup this season, and for good reason.
As a freshman last season, Grice was the Tigers’ top overall hitter. His .317 average was best on the team while his 15 home runs were among the ACC leaders. Throw in nine doubles and a triple, and more than 42% of Grice’s hits went for extra bases (25 out of 59).
Grice also accounted for 22.3% of Clemson’s homers by himself. Another one of the Tigers’ top hitters, shortstop James Parker, is off playing professional baseball as an eighth-round pick of the Seattle Mariners after swatting eight homers in his final season at Clemson.
But Clemson has others it’s counting on to help with the power supply once it season starts Feb. 18 with a series against Indiana at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Right-fielder Dylan Brewer is back after being the only other player to drop double-digit dingers for the Tigers last season (10). Meanwhile, newcomer Billy Amick is someone Clemson coach Monte Lee is high on as a freshman whose bat may be able to play in the middle of the order sooner rather than later.
“Right-handed hitter. Super strong. Has power and can hit to all fields,” Lee said of Amick. “Feel like he’s going to be a big-time hitter at this level.”
Amick dealt with an arm injury in the fall that kept him from participating in practices then, but Lee said he has “looked really good” since returning for individual drills. Clemson will begin team practices for the new season Friday.
A Batesburg native, Amick was one of the top infield prospects in the South Carolina prep ranks before signing with Clemson. The 6-foot, 210-pounder’s primary position is third base, but Lee said Amick could also play either corner infield spot as well as some second base if needed.
Whether he’ll play in the field much in Year 1, though, will depend on his health, Lee said. Most of Amick’s early at-bats are likely to come as a designated hitter in the heart of Clemson’s lineup.
“He’s going to be an impact hitter,” Lee said. “He’s going to be a middle-of-the-order type of hitter, in my opinion, in the future and could be this year depending on how he progresses once he starts getting live at-bats.”
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