AUBURN, Ala. Auburn baseball head coach Butch Thompson has announced the hire of former Auburn All-American Gabe Gross as the Tigers’ new assistant coach. Gross steps into the role vacated by Doug Sisson, who has accepted a position to rejoin the Chicago White Sox organization. Sisson worked for the White Sox before joining Thompson in 2015, and his career includes 23 years of experience in professional baseball.
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.
“Personally, today is bittersweet,” Thompson said. “On one hand, Doug is my college coach and personal friend that has made a huge impact in a short period of time at Auburn. On the other hand, announcing Gabe’s return to Auburn baseball is one of the most exciting days of my tenure.”
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.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of the Auburn baseball program again,” Gross said. “I’ve known Coach Thompson a long time and share his vision of building not only great baseball players, but also quality young men. I look forward to joining his staff and working with everyone involved in continuing to build the Auburn baseball program.”
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.
Sisson returns to White Sox organization, where he served as the Minor League outfield and base running coordinator from 2013-15. In his 23 years of experience in professional baseball, he has developed more than 50 current or former Major League players.
In his two seasons at Auburn, Sisson helped guide the Tigers to numerous high points, including a NCAA Tournament berth in 2017 and a huge jump in offensive power numbers the season prior. Five of his former hitters were selected in the MLB Draft, including Anfernee Grier (39th overall, Diamondbacks), Joshua Palacios (3rd round, Blue Jays) and Niko Buentello (19th round, Tigers) in 2016 and followed by Jonah Todd (6th round, Dodgers) and Daniel Robert (21st round, Rangers) in 2017.
The Tigers finished the 2017 campaign 37-26 – the team’s most wins since 2010 – and climbed to as high as No. 4 in the country while earning a bid to the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. Auburn hitters accounted for 124 doubles on the season, which ranked second in the SEC.
In Sisson’s first year with the program, Auburn hitters posted their best home run total in five years and turned in their highest number of extra-base hits since 2012. The team’s batting average also increased more than 20 points from the season before.