College Baseball Countdown: 78 Days to Go- Anfernee Grier, Melvin Gray

Most of the time, new head coaches have a tough job ahead of them. After all, the previous head coach is probably no longer the head coach because he didn’t win enough. When it comes to Butch Thompson at Auburn, though, that’s definitely not the case. He’s taking over a program ready to win now, and two big reasons for that are Anfernee Grier and Melvin Gray.

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Last year, that duo made the Tigers offense go.

Grier is a true all-around talent at the plate. A season ago, he not only hit .323/.391/.445, but he showed considerable extra-base pop with 22 doubles and 3 triples. While he’s probably not going to transform into a middle-of-the-order bopper, it’s conceivable that some of those doubles turn into homers next season. His experience playing for Collegiate Team USA over the summer, albeit for a short amount of time due to a bout with mononucleosis, can only serve to help him continue to develop into one of the biggest stars in the SEC as well.

Gray was a little less explosive in the slugging department, but he was no less important at the dish. He hit .304 on the season and swiped 18 bases. The list of teams that boasted a better duo at the top of their lineup was a rather short one, and considering how often the Auburn offense struggled to produce around these two, there almost certainly wasn’t a more important tandem of hitters in the nation.

Perhaps just as importantly, they are both plus defenders for the team at premium positions, with Grier manning center field and Gray holding down second base.

The Tigers do have a pretty sizable portion of their regular lineup back from last season, so assuming some of that group improves and steps into bigger roles, perhaps the team won’t have to lean so hard on Grier and Gray. Although, even if they do, just having those two in place will go a long way toward getting the team into a regional in Thompson’s first year at the helm.


About the Author

Joseph Healy
Growing up in Houston, Joe Healy was introduced to college baseball at a young age, and it was love at first sight. Like most good love stories, that love has only grown throughout the years. When he's not at the ballpark, he enjoys tacos, college football during the fall, and the spectacle that is American politics. He holds a B.A. in political science from Sam Houston State University and a Master's in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.