In his own words: Caden Grice talks senior season and playing in front of MLB scouts
Throughout the spring, The Greenville News will be checking with Riverside High School first baseman and pitcher Caden Grice.
Grice is a senior who has been receiving a lot of attention from Major League Baseball scouts from nearly every team. He is expected to be a high pick during the MLB draft in June, but he also committed to Clemson University.
Throughout the series, and by using his own words, we will be looking at what life is like for a senior who has to balance school, baseball and what the future holds.
When it started and now under the spotlight:
I've been playing baseball since I was 2 years old, and when I was 8 years old I started to really get serious about it.
When I was 12, my dad told me I was going to be special, and I didn’t really believe it. As time went on I started to get a little more attention.
The scouts have followed, and they've come from nearly every baseball team in the majors, but I've also committed to play at Clemson, and did that at the end of my freshman season.
The scouts are interested because I can pitch and play first base, and this season I want to try to hit double-digit home runs and continue to win games on the mound.
The scouts have come from nearly every Major League Baseball team, but I try not to think about it. Obviously people are going to be at the games, but I try to treat them like any other games ... just like when I was 12 years old coming out to the field.
Most of the seniors on our team have played together since we were 7 years old, and this season is about them. Just focus on having fun with my boys for one more year. Obviously we want to win, but having fun is the most important point.
Saying goodbye to seniors has always been difficult for me. I’ve cried every year. It’s always been emotional because everyone leaves an impact ... especially leaving these guys after being with them for so long is going to be tough.
As the season goes on, I hope to add some velocity to my fastball and win some games for the Warriors, but most importantly as my senior season begins, it's about having fun with my friends one final time.
MLB scouts have been attending Grice's games for two years, but they started to come in droves this past June just to see the 6-foot-7 left-hander bat and throw.
He was on the Canes National travel baseball team that summer; the roster had 29 players who have committed to NCAA Division I programs. Practices and tournaments were crawling with scouts. As his senior season began on Wednesday, approximately 40 scouts were in the stands to see him pitch and hit a home run in a 8-4 loss to Mauldin.
Being in that atmosphere brought a lot of attention to us, and when I went out and performed, people started to notice. I was never a big name, and when I started playing well that summer, it kind of blew up from there.
In the baseball offseason, scouts are allowed to make in-home visits. They're not very formal; they just want to talk baseball with you and get to know you.
They started last winter, when 28 of the 30 MLB teams came to my house to talk to me. They aren't that bad. In fact, at first I was excited.
During the first few visits, I would wear a polo and some khakis, trying to look good. By the last one, I was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants. The worst week was when I had four straight, Monday through Thursday, and they last anywhere from an hour to two hours.
I haven't been asked any strange questions by the scouts, but they always seem to be at the games. On Wednesday before the game against Mauldin, there were about 20 scouts there before we took batting practice at 3 p.m., and 40 during the game.
Before the game, I got to talk to them and shake their hands. They aren't just radar guns and hats standing behind the plate.
The radar guns and people don't really bother me, but at the same time there’s a lot of important people you have to impress. The point is to have fun, but you have to play good as well. There’s a little pressure, but it just comes with it and I enjoy it. I’m used to it by now.
There's no secret to it: No matter who is there, you have to treat it like another game.