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Reigning AAC Player Of The Year Transferring To Tennessee Baseball

Reigning AAC Player of the Year Griffin Merritt announced he is transferring to Tennessee Monday afternoon.

Merritt is the reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year after starring at left field for the Bearcats a season ago.

The Cincinnati, Ohio native hit .315 with 17 doubles, 19 home runs and 53 RBIs a season ago. Posting an impressive 1.077 OPS, Merritt was one of the best hitters in the AAC on his way to earning player of the year honors.

The 6-foot-2 outfielder made a big jump in his senior season at Cincinnati. Merritt was effective as a junior, hitting .274 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs, but wasn’t the caliber player he developed into last spring.

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Merritt is the sixth transfer to commit to Tennessee this offseason joining Kansas shortstop Maui Ahuna, Alabama third baseman Zane Denton, Austin Peay catcher Jack Alexander, UConn two-way star Reggie Crawford and Charlotte pitcher Andrew Lindsey.

The San Fransisco Giants selected Crawford in the first round of the MLB Draft and Alexander signed an undrafted free agent deal with the Kansas City Royals. Neither will make it to campus.

Merritt has one year of eligibility remaining after playing four-years in Cincinnati and provides much needed depth to Tennessee’s outfield.

The graduate transfer spent some time playing first base as a junior and could pitch in there if needed in Knoxville. However, Tennessee’s roster needs are at outfield where they lost all three starters from a season ago.

Drew Gilbert, Jordan Beck and Seth Stephenson were all MLB Draft selections and signed professional contracts. Alexander surprisingly signing with Kansas City expedited the Vols need for another outfielder.

The decision makes utility man Jared Dickey more likely to catch in 2022. With Alexander, Dickey could spend the bulk of his time in left field giving Tony Vitello and his staff just two outfield spots to fill.

With Alexander off to professional baseball, Dickey’s emphasis is likely to be behind the plate.

Even before Merritt’s commitment, Tennessee had options in the outfield. Reserves Kyle Booker, Christian Scott and Logan Chambers return and the Vols added junior college outfielder Colby Backus and sought after prep stars Alex Stanwich and Reese Chapman.

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