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2016 MLB Draft: Anfernee Grier, OF, Auburn University

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Here's another college baseball outfielder expected to be an early pick in the 2016 MLB Draft next week: Auburn University outfielder Anfernee Grier.

As a high school player from Seale, Alabama, Grier impressed scouts with his pure athleticism but was considered rather raw. He had an Auburn commitment and teams assessed correctly that he would honor it, which dropped him down to the 39th round in the 2013 draft. After turning down the Detroit Tigers, he was a part-time player in 2014 and hit .255/.325/.329 in 149 at-bats as a freshman.

He took over a regular job as a sophomore, hitting an improved .323/.391/.445 in 254 at-bats, although his BB/K ratio was shaky at 22/61. He hit just one homer and was caught stealing seven times (against nine successes), showing his continued skill rawness.

2016 has been different. Grier is up to .366/.457/.576 overall, with 12 homers, 19 steals in 24 attempts, and a 32/55 BB/K in 238 at-bats. Sounds great, and indeed Grier has made some real improvements, particularly with power production, tapping his natural strength more often. His baserunning is better too, Grier developing the skills to be a dangerous stealer. There is a note of caution regarding his plate discipline: although he still hit well against SEC competition at .326/.404/.465, his BB/K slipped to 12/40 in 129 conference at-bats. That split reflects reports that his approach against advanced pitching has still lacked some polish.

Grier is a 6-1, 180 pound right-handed hitter and thrower born October 13, 1995; at age 20 he is one of the youngest juniors in the class. He's added at least an inch of height and 15 pounds of muscle since high school, boosting his power potential. His best physical tool is speed, 60-grade, and he's developed the instincts to use it well on the bases and in the outfield. His arm is so-so but works in center field and his defense overall is quite good; his glove was considered well ahead of the bat before this spring.

Overall, Grier has made a lot of progress turning his tools into skills but still needs to prove himself against the best pitching. In terms of draft status he's at least a second rounder and could go higher than that to a team that believes they can consolidate the bat.

Video from Jake Mastroianni