Gunnar Buhner enters his first season with the Grizzlies and second as a professional in 2019.
Buhner, who turned 24 on May 11, appeared in 24 games for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2017. He played college baseball at NCAA Div. I Abilene (Texas) Christian University, then at Columbia Basin College (JUCO), then finished at NAIA powerhouse Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, where he helped the Warriors to back-to-back NAIA World Series titles in 2016 and 2017 — the second and third championships in a Warriors three-peat. Lewis-Clark State has won 19 NAIA titles; no other school has won more than four.
He also played 40 games last season with the Eastside Diamond Hoopers of the United Shore Professional Baseball League.
Buhner is the son of former MLB star Jay Buhner, who played 15 years in the big leagues as an outfielder — after 32 games in 1987 and 1988 with the New York Yankees, he spent the remainder of his career with the Seattle Mariners. The elder Buhner was a big-league All-Star in 1996 when he clubbed 44 home runs and piled up 138 RBIs — the second of three straight seasons in which he hit at least 40 big flies. He also finished fifth in MVP voting in 1995, despite not making the All-Star team. He finished his career with 310 home runs (133rd in MLB history; 35th in history with only 16.2 at-bats per home run) and appeared in the postseason four times, although he never played in a World Series. He played in 19 games in 2001, his final season, when the Mariners set a major-league record with 116 wins.