It’s been a special off season for Grayson Greiner, personally and professionally.
First, the former Blythewood and South Carolina baseball standout married the former Madison Danker in October.
Then a few weeks later, Greiner got news he was hoping for after finishing his 2017 campaign season with the Toledo Mud Hens, the AAA affiliate for the Detroit Tigers. Greiner was added to the Tigers 40-man roster, which protected him in the Rule 5 Draft but maybe more importantly ensured he would be a part of Detroit’s big-league club when Spring Training starts.
“It means a lot to me that the Tigers have the faith to put me on the 40-man roster. But at the same time, I haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Greiner said. “I just have to keep working hard and try and get better every day to see what happens this upcoming year.”
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Greiner spent time with the parent team in Spring Training last year as an invited non-roster player, but this time he will probably stick around a while longer. The honor of being added to the 40-man roster was a testament to the work Greiner put in on the field in 2017.
The third-round pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft has all the tools defensively as a catcher but his offense has lagged at times. He started the 2017 season with Erie in AA and his April and May were nothing much to talk about. But the final three months of the season, he was able to turn things around.
In 98 games with Erie and five games with Toledo, Greiner set career highs with 14 home runs, 21 doubles, 44 RBI and 40 walks while hitting .237.
“I started off really slow in April and May and was scuffling,” Greiner said. “One thing clicked and it all came together for me. I got better each day and ended up having a pretty good year. Numbers-wise, I finished career high in HR and a couple of other categories.”
The final week of the season was an added boost to Greiner’s confidence. He only played in five games in AAA and hit .143 (2-for-14) but the opportunity to compete at that level made him feel like he belonged.
“I was only up about a week, but I was able to get my feet wet and get a taste of what it’s like up there,” he said. “It’s still baseball, the same game just a little more polished.”
Greiner worked out at USC in the offseason and is expected to leave for Florida toward the end of January to get an early start. Pitchers and catchers must report by Feb. 13.
He does now know where he will start the 2018 season but the 6-foot-6, 220-pound catcher will be ready.
“(Detroit) told me to keep working hard,” Greiner said. “You never know what can happen. I need to take care of my body and be ready for whatever happens.”