Auburn outfielder Anfernee Grier is ready to take the same road as his father.
It’s a road he hopes features upgraded transportation and nicer living accommodations than it had nearly 20 years ago when Anfernee’s father, Antron, was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals organization in the sixth round of the 1987 MLB draft out of Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala.
“He’s told me all his bad stories,” Anfernee Grier said with a laugh. “I’m hoping things are better now. He’s helped prepare my mind for a life in pro ball, but I’m confident anything I go through won’t be as bad as he had it.”
Antron Grier, who played at Central, can’t remember every detail about what he went through during the draft process, but distinctly recalls the emotions he had when he reported to the Cardinals minor league affiliate in Erie, Pennsylvania.
“They had us staying in a room that was a small box,” Grier said. “I’m telling you it was the size of a closet. I was like what did I get myself into?”
Anfernee Grier may have had trouble adjusting to life on the road if he turned professional out of high school.
The Russell County standout was drafted coming out of high school, but didn’t seriously consider skipping college as a 39th round selection.
“He wasn’t mature enough,” Antron Grier said. “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.”
Antron Grier doesn’t have the same reservations this week.
The 2016 MLB draft starts Thursday with Anfernee Grier expected to be an early round pick. MLB Network will televise the first two rounds of the draft starting at 7 p.m. Thursday. The draft resumes at 1 p.m. Friday with rounds three through 10 and rounds 11 to 40 start Sunday at noon.
Grier spent the past few weeks going through an informal interview process with major league clubs. The outfielder was reluctant to share names of the teams he visited with, but had in-person visits at five different ballparks.
“They took me around the field, had me hit batting practice, met with people in the organization,” Grier said. “I think it was to develop a relationship and put a face to the name.”
Grier also talked with a number of other organizations over the phone.
Those conversations with executives and scouts from throughout the league painted a clear picture of the junior’s draft stock.
“I kind of know where I will go, but different things can happen,” Grier said. “From what teams have said, I think I can go in the top two rounds. I’d be a little disappointed if I didn’t go in the top two to be honest.”
Grier’s draft stock steadily improved throughout his junior season as he put up better numbers across the board from his breakout sophomore campaign. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder shot up Baseball America’s top 100 draft prospects from No. 94 in March to No. 47 in May.
On Tuesday, he earned All-American honors from the publication.
The center fielder was the only player to start all of Auburn’s 56 games this season. He led the team in hits (87), home runs (12), total bases (137) and stolen bases (19). He was second on the team with a .366 batting average and 41 RBI.
“As a parent you tell your children if you work hard good things will come, and Anfernee really showed that’s the case,” Antron Grier said. “He set the bar high for himself and hit all his goals.”
Antron Grier points to his son’s accomplishments on the Plains as evidence Anfernee is ready to surpass what his father achieved all those years ago.
“He might be in the same boat I was in, but he’s in a much better position,” Antron Grier said with pride. “He’s one of those elite prospects.”
Grier is one of 12 players from Russell County High who have been drafted.
RUSSELL COUNTY PLAYERS DRAFTED