CINCINNATI — University of Cincinnati redshirt junior outfielder Griffin Merritt was named the American Athletic Conference (AAC) player of the year Monday.
"It's such a surreal feeling right now," Merritt said in a statement. "I grew up a Bearcats fan, both my parents went to UC. It's been a dream to play at UC. To bring such a prestigious award back to the university means everything to me. I'm very grateful."
Merritt, a 2018 La Salle High School graduate, joins Chicago Cubs center fielder Ian Happ (2015) as the only two UC baseball players to win the prestigious award.
"Griffin has been unbelievable this year," UC baseball coach Scott Googins said. "Not only his offensive production with his home runs but his leadership as our team captain. He is captain Bearcat for us."
The left fielder was one of five Bearcats to win All-AAC honors Monday.
Merritt also becomes the fourth Bearcat to win a conference player of the year award. In addition to Happ winning the same award in 2015, he joins Josh Harrison (2008 Big East Player of the Year) and Chris Holt (1995 Great Midwest MVP).
2022 has been a year to remember, with Merritt batting .309, hitting 17 home runs, driving in 47 RBI, scoring 41 runs, slugging .676 and ending the regular season with a 1.053 on-base percentage.
"This is a big-time honor for him and our program," Googins said. "He has worked hard; he has earned all the accolades and more. A great young man who has made a big impact on me and the program."
Merritt leads the AAC entering the conference tournament with 17 home runs and a .676 slugging percentage. He ranks second in the conference in doubles (16), third in total bases (127) and fifth in RBIs (47).
UC opens the AAC tournament Tuesday morning against Tulane in Clearwater, Fla.
UC honorees in the AAC
- OF Griffin Merritt – Player of the Year
- OF Griffin Merritt – All-AAC First Team
- OF Paul Komistek – All-AAC Second Team
- 1B Ryan Nicholson – All-AAC Second Team
- P Beau Keathley – All-AAC Second Team
- P Conner Linn – All-AAC Second Team