Auburn baseball head coach Butch Thompson announced the hire of former Auburn All-American Gabe Gross as the Tigers' new assistant coach on Oct. 6, 2017.
A three-year starter in the Auburn outfield from 1999-01, Gross was a first-team All-American in 2000 after he led the Southeastern Conference in hitting with a blistering .430 average. A two-time All-SEC performer, Gross was a freshman All-American in 1999 and a second-team Academic All-American in 2001. He¬¬¬ will oversee the Auburn offense and work with the outfielders.
Named Auburn’s 2016 SEC Baseball Legend, Gross remains in the school's top 10 in 12 statistical categories, including batting average, hits, doubles, runs, home runs and RBI, among other career lists.
A first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2001, Gross enjoyed a seven-year big league career and was a member of the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays team that made a World Series appearance. He totaled 78 doubles, eight triples, 40 home runs and 186 RBI while playing for four different teams.
Following his career in professional baseball, Gross enrolled back in Auburn in August 2011 and served as the Tigers’ student assistant during the 2012 season, when he completed his undergraduate degree. The following year, Gross stayed on board as the volunteer assistant, when he continued to work with the Auburn outfielders and oversaw the offense.
In his previous stint with the Auburn coaching staff, Gross was a major contributor to an Auburn offense that hit .290, collectively, during the 2012-13 seasons. Auburn finished the 2012 season leading the SEC in batting average (.304), on-base percentage (.386), triples (19) and stolen bases (113). The Tigers ranked top 20 nationally in stolen bases and batting average, which was the program’s highest mark in the last seven seasons.
Gross moved on from coaching and started broadcasting with ESPN and CSS during the 2014 season. He then joined the SEC Network as a baseball analyst when it launched and has served in the capacity since the 2015 season.
Gross is married to the former Kelly Gesch, also an Auburn graduate. The couple has two children, Allie (8) and Jake (7).
Karl Nonemaker, a former Auburn assistant and All-SEC outfielder at Vanderbilt, has been named an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Tigers' baseball program, head coach Butch Thompson announced Monday. Nonemaker spent the previous six seasons as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at Old Dominion University. Nonemaker was on Auburn's staff from 2005-07, helping the program to a NCAA Regional final in 2005.
"We got everything we were looking for in Karl Nonemaker," Thompson said. "We wanted someone with experience coaching and playing in the SEC, someone who is a great recruiter that could work with our hitters, and someone who is a great family man. Karl is all of that. He was an outstanding hitter in the SEC, he has a brilliant mind and he has been a successful recruiter and offensive coach. Karl has been at Auburn, and understands Auburn. That's very important. We're very excited to welcome Karl and his family to Auburn."
Nonemaker's career includes two years playing professionally in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and 11 years coaching at three universities; Old Dominion (2012-17), Monmouth (2010-11) and Auburn. He also spent two years (2008-09) working for Louisville Slugger.
A four-year starter at Vanderbilt from 1999-02, Nonemaker was a freshman All-American in 1999 and first-team All-SEC outfielder in 2000. His .415 batting average as a freshman in 1999 is the 15th best single-season average in SEC history (min. 200 AB) and ninth-best mark in the conference in the last 20 years (min. 200 AB). Nonemaker ranks second in career batting average (.369) and hits (283) for the Commodores.
"I am extremely grateful to Auburn University for giving me this opportunity and to Coach Thompson for believing in me," Nonemaker said. "It is kind of surreal that I get to come back to Auburn, the place where I got my first coaching job, at such an exciting time. I understand the expectation at Auburn and can assure the players, coaches, and Auburn family that they will get my very best."
ODU was 162-124 during his six years, winning 30+ games four times and making an appearance in a NCAA Regional in 2014. During his time at ODU, he was responsible for coaching the hitters, base runners, and outfielders.
In 2017, Nonemaker helped the Monarchs to a 37-21 record, including a 19-11 mark in Conference USA, the best conference win total in the program's four years in C-USA. The program cracked the national polls for the first time in 10 years in 2017.
This season Nonemaker helped tutor three freshman All-Americans and C-USA Newcomer of the Year in infielder Jared Young. He also helped coach shortstop Zach Rutherford, the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and 2016 Cape Cod League MVP.
In 2014, ODU's first in Conference USA, the program advanced to its first NCAA Regional appearance in 14 seasons.
Eight players, all in the last four years, have been taken in the MLB Draft during Nonemaker's tenure at ODU, leading up to this year's draft. Among those drafted include LHP Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by Tampa Bay and P.J. Higgins, a 12th round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2015. Higgins is rated the top defensive catcher in the Cubs' organization.
Prior to Old Dominion, Nonemaker served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Monmouth University for two years. In 2011, Monmouth won the NEC regular season title, winning every league series. Nonemaker tutored NEC Player of the Year, and Louisville Slugger/TPX Third Team All-American second baseman Ryan Terry, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays.
A 20th-round draft choice of Philadelphia in 2002, Nonemaker went on to be a member of the Phillies Gulf Coast Championship team in 2002, and in 2003, split the year between the Lakewood Blue Claws (Single-A) and the Reading Phillies (Double-A).
A native of Roxbury, N.J., Nonemaker was a four-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection, graduating from Vanderbilt with a degree in Human and Organizational Development in 2002. He and his wife Katie have two daughters, Ellie and Ainsley.
Steve Smith joined the Auburn baseball staff as a pitching coach prior to the 2018 season.
Smith comes to The Plains with a pedigree that includes 21 years of collegiate head coaching experience and an additional eight years of experience as an assistant coach.
The winningest coach in the history of Baylor Athletics, Smith won 744 games during his 21-year tenure with the Bears. He turned in 16 seasons of 30 or more wins and six campaigns with 40 or more, including a program record 50 wins in 1999. Additionally, the Bears' five winningest seasons came under Smith's guidance.
Smith also served as the head coach for the USA Baseball National Team in 2005 and was the national team's pitching coach in 1998.
Smith took his Baylor teams to 13 NCAA Regionals, four Super Regionals and culminated the 2005 season with the program's first berth in the College World Series since 1978. He also claimed a trio of Big 12 Conference Championships, including Baylor's first outright championship in more than 75 years during the 2000 season.
A five-time Big 12 Coach of the Year, Smith was named the 2012 Midwest Region Coach of the Year. He served as the President of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) in 2008 and was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
Player development has been Smith's forte as he not only coached 17 All-Americans, but also guided Jason Jennings to the 1999 Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Award and Rotary Smith Award as the best player in college baseball. Jennings also became the first consensus Division I National Player of the Year, and Kelly Shoppach earned the Johnny Bench Award as the top collegiate catcher in 2001.
Smith has had 72 former players selected in the MLB Draft with eight pitchers hearing their names called in the first round. Additionally, 13 of his former players have achieved their dreams of reaching the Big Leagues.
Smith's players also have a history of excelling in the classroom as he has mentored 14 Academic All-Americans, 39 Academic All-District honorees and 159 Academic All-Big 12 selections.
After beginning his playing career as a dual-sport athlete -- quarterback and pitcher -- at Mississippi College from 1979-80, Smith completed his collegiate days as a two-year letterwinner at Baylor from 1982-83 and led the Southwest Conference in ERA (1.72) in 1982. He went on to be selected by the San Francisco Giants in the fifth round of the 1983 MLB Draft and spent the next four seasons in the Giants' organization, making his way up to the AAA level at the end of the 1986 season.
Smith's coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M from 1988-89, and he earned his first full-time position as an assistant coach at Mississippi State from 1990-94, where he helped lead the Bulldogs to the 1990 College World Series. He then went on to spend the aforementioned 21 seasons at Baylor from 1995-2015 and most recently served as an assistant coach at Santa Clara University a season ago.
Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Education at Baylor in 1986 and went on to earn his Master of Business Administration at Texas A&M in 1989.
A native of Gulfport, Miss., Smith and his wife, Melinda, have two sons, Ryan and Case. Ryan is a graduate assistant coach for the Angelo State football team. Case is the Director of Recreation Ministries at First Baptist Church Woodway in Waco, Texas, where he and his wife, Danelle, live.