Michael Grove Picked on First Day of MLB Draft
In baseball, pitching trumps everything. That’s why WVU junior Michael Grove was selected in the second round of Monday’s Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite not having thrown a pitch in a live game since April of 2017.
Grove, who underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after an aborted start against Kansas State 14 months ago, displayed everything major league clubs are looking for in a pitching prospect. Making nine starts as a sophomore in 2017 before his season was ended, he posted a 2.87 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 47.0 innings pitched while holding opposing batters to a .174 batting average. As a true freshman in 2016, Grove had 56 strikeouts and a 3.40 ERA in 45.0 innings while moving into the starting rotation.
His rapid rise was curtailed by the surgery, which is rarely career-ending. A number of players on the major league level have gone on to outstanding careers after undergoing the procedure, which involves replacing the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in the elbow with another one, typically from a donor.
Thus, it’s no surprise that Grove was picked by the Dodgers with the 68th overall selection, even though the placement might have been a bit higher than expected. Reactions from around the baseball world credited Los Angeles with getting in on him early, with some calling it a steal.
A native of Wheeling, W.Va., Grove is the 11th Mountaineer to be drafted in the top 10 rounds and the fourth to be picked in the top two. He is WVU’s 87th draft selection in program history, since the first draft was held in 1965. He is West Virginia’s highest draft pick since 2010, when Jedd Gyorko was selected in the second round with the 59th overall pick by the San Diego Padres.
In coach Randy Mazey’s six seasons, Grove is WVU’s 17th draft selection and the first to be picked above the eighth round. The righthander is the sixth Mountaineer picked by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the first since right-hander Vance McCracken in 2001 in the 18th round. WVU’s first-ever draft pick, in 1965, saw left-hander John Radosevich get selected by the Dodgers in the fifth round.
Along with Grove and Gyorko, WVU’s draft picks in the top two rounds include outfielder Darrell Whitmore, who was selected in the second round by the Cleveland Indians in 1990, and righty Chris Enochs, who was drafted in the first round by the Oakland Athletics in 1997.
Grove has until July 6 to decide whether or not to begin his pro career or return to WVU for his senior season, but given his high spot and the amount of money he can expect to make in a signing bonus, the decision might not be a difficult one. The assigned value for his draft slot is $917,000, although he could be offered a higher or lower amount, depending on how the Dodgers wish to use their allocated bonus pool money. Los Angeles can spend $5,288,200 on its first ten selections without paying a tax or penalty.
The MLB Draft continues on Tuesday, with the third-10th rounds, while the draft concludes with rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.