D-backs land talented Auburn OF Grier at No. 39

Scouting director Ladnier calls club's top pick a 'pure center fielder'

June 9th, 2016

PHOENIX -- When Thursday night began, Auburn center fielder Anfernee Grier was not sure where he was going to wind up.

Grier's wait ended when the D-backs made him their 39th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, which was in the Lottery Round A.

"I was just speechless," Grier said. "I was just happy and filled with joy. Everything that I worked for was finally here. Being picked by an organization like the Diamondbacks, I got to meet with a couple of the guys last week, I was just happy."

The pick was the D-backs' first of the night as they forfeited their first-round pick when they signed free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke last December. In the second round (52nd overall), the D-backs picked lefty-swinging catcher Andy Yerzy from York Mills Collegiate Institute in Toronto.

52nd overall: Andy Yerzy

The first day of the MLB Draft consists of the first round as well as Lottery Rounds A and B and the second round.

The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. MST, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m. MST.

:: Complete 2016 Draft coverage ::

While Grier certainly felt anxiety, it was nothing compared to what Arizona scouting director Deric Ladnier was going through as he watched team after team make picks.

"It's the first time in my career that I've ever picked so late," Ladnier said. "I think the last time I was so stressed was when we were picking Zack Greinke with the Kansas City Royals. It was painful sitting there and watching all the names fly off the board and hoping and a praying a guy we targeted with a potential pick would be there. We were sweating that one out. I, personally, was sweating that one out."

Grier ranked among the Southeastern Conference batting leaders this season and has improved in each of his seasons at Auburn. He was ranked 54th on MLB.com's list of Top 200 prospects for this year's Draft.

A leadoff hitter for Auburn, Grier hit .366 with a team-best 12 homers and 41 RBIs while leading the SEC in runs scored with 56.

"Pure center fielder," Ladnier said. "He's a tooled-out player that stays in center field, he's plus out there, he has a plus arm, he's an above-average runner, he's shown above-average power and the ability to hit."

Listed at 6-foot, 170 pounds, Grier improved his numbers each year at Auburn.

"I worked real hard at a lot of stuff and it paid off year-by-year," Grier said. "Just learning different things throughout the years and going into the offseason and putting in the work from what I learned from the previous year."

Grier attended one of the D-backs' pre-Draft workouts and impressed the staff with how he ran down balls in the deep Chase Field gaps.

"Ran them down with ease," Ladnier said. "His arm was very strong, very accurate."