Greiner Gets His Shot in Pro’s

Former Bengal and USC All-American catcher Grayson Greiner makes a play at the plate in SEC action earlier this season. (Photo/S.C. Athletics Media Relations)

DETROIT – Grayson Greiner comes from a family of South Carolina athletes in basketball and football, but he always dreamed of playing Major League Baseball. He never quite dreamed back then that he’d be taking his shot as a catcher, but he’s about to get it.

Greiner, the Tigers’ third-round pick in last week’s MLB Draft, has agreed to terms on a contract that includes a $529,400 bonus, the value slotted to the 99th overall selection. He spent Wednesday flying from South Carolina to Florida, where he’ll undergo his physical at the Tigers’ Spring Training facility in Lakeland and sign his deal.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Greiner said. “Ever since I could walk, I dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. Now I can wake up and put my mind on the field and try to get better.”

He’ll be doing so as a catcher, a position where some wondered whether he could stick full-time. It was his defensive skills that drew the Tigers to take a shot on a catcher his size.

Greiner became a catcher out of necessity. He was a shortstop on his high school’s junior varsity team, which needed somebody to put behind the plate, and his coaches asked if he could catch.

“I gave it a shot and haven’t looked back,” Greiner said.

What drew him there are many of the same draws that other catchers cited.

“You’re kind of the quarterback on the field,” he said. “You’re involved in every play, work with the pitching staff, work with the pitching coach. I just love being involved.”

That love showed in how hard he competed to stick there when he nearly outgrew the position. At 6-foot-5, he had to prove he could handle catching when his college career began at South Carolina. He ended up not only becoming an SEC All-Defensive catcher, but started at catcher on Team USA.

“He’s large, but he’s mobile,” vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said last week. “He moves well. He was Team USA’s primary catcher last summer, so he’s handled pitchers of Major League caliber. So we know he can catch, we know he can throw, and I like his offensive abilities, too. Outstanding makeup, and we think he’s got the leadership qualities to catch, and catch at the highest level.”

Greiner is one of two catchers the Tigers drafted within their first five picks. Fifth-round pick Shane Zeile is expected to join Greiner next week once he completes his exams at UCLA.

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs and is reprinted by permission of Jason Beck.

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