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Clemson Baseball

Bakich on Caden Grice: 'One of the most God-given blessed baseball players I've ever seen'

June 14, 2023
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Caden Grice had always been a talented athlete, but the 2023 season became a defining moment in his career as a pitcher and star batter for the Clemson Tigers-- and yesterday’s announcement that the was the winner of the John Olerud Two-Way Player-of-the-Year Award further solidified the season he just produced on the diamond.

We recently sat down with head baseball coach Erik Bakich, and he told us Grice is the best two-way player he’s ever coached.

"I've given this some thought, and I think he might be the best I've seen-- simply because of his ability to dominate at both. I've coached pitchers that were just maybe exclusively better pitchers and hitters that were exclusively better hitters, but not a baseball player that could do both sides of the ball as well as he does it,” Bakich told ClemsonSportsTalk.com last week.

As the spring approached, Grice's determination was at an all-time high. He had spent countless hours refining his pitching mechanics in the offseason and strengthening his batting skills, but Grice matured as a leader, which ultimately shaped Clemson’s season.

“He grew tremendously,” Bakich stated. “I think once he started pitching-- once he settled into a groove there after the first quarter of the season-- as we made our way into conference play. That's where he started to really make some strides.”

Grice became a force to be reckoned with on the mound. His fastball sizzled. His pinpoint accuracy earned him a reputation as one of America's most dominant pitchers in the ACC. But Grice's contributions didn't end on the pitcher's mound. His powerful swing sent baseballs soaring into the outfield, over the fences, and into the stands. He consistently delivered clutch hits, driving in runs and propelling the Tigers to victory-- making him one of the top two-way players in college baseball.

“I've coached two-way guys that have been really good hitters that could pitch and relief or close games, but to be able to start games the way he did at the end of the year, and to be able to impact the baseball from the left-handed batter's box the way he does? He's just a clutch performer, a clutch pitcher, a big game player,” Bakich noted.

Baseball analysts marveled at his ability to excel in both pitching and hitting. Yet, amid all the attention and accolades, Grice grew even more as a leader in the clubhouse for Clemson.

“The more he pitched, the better he hit, and the better he hit, the better he pitched. It just looked like he was the 12-year-old version of Caden Grice that was just back to dominating baseball, playing with a big smile on his face and having fun doing it,” Bakich said. “He just went out there and had a lot of fun playing with his best friends and his teammates."

While Clemson’s season didn’t end as fans hoped-- with a run to Omaha-- it will be Grice’s performance against Tennessee that many at Doug Kinsmore Stadium will never forget-- even in defeat-- as he pitched an incredible 9-and-two-thirds against the Vols.

Watching that performance, Tiger fans got another chance to appreciate the player Grice became in the 2023 season. Bakich echoed what most fans thought as they left DKS following the loss to Tennessee.

“The guy's one of the most God-given blessed baseball players I've ever seen."

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Bakich on Caden Grice: 'One of the most God-given blessed baseball players I've ever seen'

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