#39: OF Anfernee Grier, Auburn
Today wasn't the first time a member of Grier family was drafted, as his father Antron was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the sixth round of the 1987 draft. The Diamondbacks will be hoping it's not a case of "like father, like son," as the senior Grier never made it to the majors, not getting above High-A ball and posting a batting average of .235 over four seasons. Indeed, Anfernee himself was chosen three years ago, in the 39th round by the Tigers, but never seriously considered signing. His father said, "He wasn’t mature enough. He needed to grow up a little more. I know how it is in the minors. I don’t think I would have let him go if he was drafted No. 1."
Anfernee appears to have had a breakout 2016 campaign, finishing second on the Auburn team with a .366 average, and showing seriously increased power, hitting 12 home-runs as a senior compared to just one in his sophomore season. That helped jack his slugging percentage up from .445 last year, to .576 this season. There were indications that the Cardinals had interest in Anfernee, but he appears to have gone about where expected. One National League scout was quoted as saying. "I think he could be taken as early as No. 23 but I don’t expect him to last past the end of the sandwich round at 40."
Writing in March, Today's Knuckleball were particularly bullish: "He is an uncommon athlete for the college game, and appears to have made the leap from great athlete to great ballplayer. Grier has top-of-the-order potential with easy plus-tools in his speed and arm, and significant potential across the board. It’s unlikely many scouts would put a future power grade of anything higher than 45 on Grier, but given the rest of his skill-set, that is far from a major knock, and is more than was expected in terms of pop during his prep and early college career. His hit tool projects to be in the above-average range, and he has shown steady improvement in his ability to take a walk."
However, if you want another view, Prospect Digest offers this: "Grier has a gaping hole in his swing, one that’s led to 140 strikeouts in his 736 career plate appearances – or just under 20% for his career. And here’s the more troubling issue: he’s shown no improvement over his career either. And just for comparison’s sake, consider this: Based on Grier’s 2016 stats (strikeout and walk rates, and triple-slash line) the closest matches are Adam Walker, a fringy big leaguer, Caleb Adams, and Nick Banks. Whomp, whomp… Grier looks like a potential fourth outfielder, maybe a less version of Mike Cameron if everything works out well."
The Auburn blog, College and Magnolia has more video and concluded, "He's going to make some Major League team and its fans very happy" Grier joins a slew of fellow Auburn alumni, although only a handful have been picked higher than Grier. Most notanle would be Frank Thomas, who was an overall seventh pick in 1989. Others from the college include Tim Hudson (#185, 1987), Josh Donaldson (#48, 2007) and Bo Jackson (#105, 1986). He's the fourth player the Diamondbacks have chosen from Auburn, though none have yet reached the majors; the most-recent selection was Bryan Woodall, in the 21st round of the 2008 draft. Grier is on Twitter at @_agrier10.
#52: C Andy Yerzy, York Mills Collegiate (Ontario, CA)
The D-backs have not had many Canadian players in their history. There have been only two, in fact: Danny Klassen appeared for them from 1998-2002, and there was then a long break until last season, when Jamie Romak's grande cup of coffee (16 PA) made him the second. Might Yerzy become #3? If so, it's going to be a long way off, since Andrew is still only seventeen years old, not turning 18 until next month. So, it's highly likely we won't see him - even in a best-case scenario - until the 'twenties, as the youngest Diamondback to play the position in team history, was Oscar Hernandez, the only one ever to do so as a 22-year-old
The first question is whether he has the capability to stay at the position, as he appears a better hitter than catcher. "My biggest strength is probably my bat and my physicality," Yerzy said last July. "I worked a lot on my hitting and my body this offseason to get bigger and stronger. I need to continue to work on staying flexible and agile behind the plate." Viva El Birdos looked at Yerzy in depth, and said "He's as heavy-footed as any high school senior you're likely to see, and that lack of nimbleness comes through to his catching, as well. He just doesn't move around particularly well behind the plate, struggling to get low enough on blocking and slow to come up out of his crouch on throws."
However, they were much more optimistic about his hitting, saying that "Yerzy has as much raw power as any high school hitter in the draft this year, particularly when it comes to over the fence potential.. He's capable of hitting the ball hard from dead center to the right field line, but can get pull-happy and looks to probably be shiftable at higher levels. Of course, whether or not that remains true will have to be seen down the road, as Yerzy develops and perhaps learns to better use the opposite field, but for now his swing orients his production toward power and toward the pull side."
Looks like there is potential there, but it's a long way off - if he can stick behind the plate, obviously, that will make him a good deal more valuable to the D-backs.. His Twitter handle is @ayeezy56, and here's footage from Yerzy's 2015 campaign, including a good chunk of him with the mask on.