Much disappointment has been expressed because the Dodgers couldn’t sign their first round selection this year. High school right-hander J.T. Ginn chose to attend Mississippi State University and perhaps enter the draft again in 2020 after his sophomore year.
I was 100 percent sure that the Dodgers had a commitment that he would sign or else why would they select him with their first overall selection when some very good signable college players were still available. Already there are suggestions that Billy Gasparino might have punched his ticket out of town or at least might ride on a different car before the next draft. I am not so sure about that as his call must have been supported by all those involved with the draft. Maybe it was a plan to gather two early selections during the 2019 draft, perhaps thought to be an even stronger drafting class next year. I’m not big into conspiracy theories so I will settle for a missed opportunity. Although, maybe we have to wait for those two selections in 2019 to pass our final judgment.
In any event, it is over and regardless of what other teams did I think the strength of a draft comes from the 31 players that were signed, not by one that didn’t. For that assessment we indeed do have to settle in for a longer haul.
Interesting enough, but not surprisingly, of the nine draftees not signed, five are high school players while four are from community colleges. That is pretty much as we would expect. The new contingent of draftees includes eight right-hand pitchers, six lefties, three second basemen, three catchers, one first baseman and 10 outfielders.
J.T. Ginn is now out of the picture for at least two years. In the meantime, by then we will know how the Dodgers second 2018 selection has worked out. Will we be questioning that call or will we be comparing him with Walker Buehler? He might not be a Walker Buehler, but I expect right-hander Michael Grove was not an ill thought out selection by the Dodgers. Perhaps he will be a Caleb Ferguson,a Mitchell White or a Morgan Cooper. I certainly could live with that.
The 6’3”/200-pound Grove was taken with the 68th overall selection out of West Virginia University.
He is a native of Wheeling, West Virginia and graduated from Wheeling Park High School.
Following his high school graduation Grove headed to West Virginia University although he had other scholarship offers from Hofstra, Richmond and Eastern Kentucky as well. He chose WVU because of the baseball program offered by head coach Randy Mazey.
At that time Grove described his pitching arsenal.
“I throw a hard fastball around 90-91 mph,” he said. “I can add in the changeup and a good slider with that as well. I just want to get better all-around during my senior year and have more command with my off-speed pitches, throw a little harder and hit even better.”
Grove did not have an overly strong year as a freshman at WVU but broke out during his sophomore year in 2017. Over 47 innings he posted a 2.87 ERA along with a 0.94 WHIP while walking 15 and striking out 61. His opponents hit but .174 against him. Following his ninth start his season was over as he was scheduled for the now almost commonplace Tommy John surgery.
The young right-hander did not pitch at all during the 2018 college season. He might be ready for some late season work during the current campaign but more likely will begin his professional career in 2019 at which time he will be 22.
It was not surprising that the Dodgers selected Grove during the June draft. In fact, it was expected in some circles, although perhaps not quite so early in the draft. While some pundits were labeling the selection of Grove as a steal Baseball America was a bit more reserved in their assessment of the selection.
“Grove was shaping up to be a priority follow this year as he showed a mid-rotation caliber arm for West Virginia last season before he blew out his elbow in his ninth start of the season. He hasn’t pitched in a game this year as he recovers, but pre-injury he was blowing away hitters with a 93-96 mph fastball and a plus breaking ball with above-average control. Grove’s injury status makes him a true wild card for the draft, but a team willing to take a chance could end up landing a second/third round talent in a later round.”
In selecting Grove, Billy Gasparino felt he had somewhat of an inside track:
“Grove’s a little bit of a unique case,” said Dodgers director, amateur scouting Billy Gasparino. “A lot of credit goes to our area scout Jonah Rosenthal — he was able to see Grove in both his freshman and sophomore year at West Virginia and gain some comfortability with his physical ability.”
“We felt like we were pretty prepared to know what kind of pitcher we were getting, despite knowing he had Tommy John surgery,” Gasparino said. “He is right about the 12-month mark now in the recovery process, and from all accounts, he is back on track to be at the same health and physical capacity he was before.”
Sometimes things just don’t turn out as planned. For whatever reason J. T. Ginn is not a Dodger. But, Michael Grove is as are 30 other young men. We might just be pleasantly surprised by this drafting class.
Mark Timmons Words
I was asked about Jansen’s, Grandal’s and Puig’s execution in the 9th and I said “I’m all for it!” What a horrible way to lose! Kenley will blow some saves from time-to-time. He’s not invincible! In 2017, he only blew 1, which was his best year. Here’s his blown saves:
- 2011: 5 for 6
- 2012: 25 for 32
- 2013: 28 for 32
- 2014: 44 for 49
- 2015: 36 for 38
- 2016: 47 of 53
- 2017: 41 of 42
- 2018: 23 of 26 (hopefully that was his last one – they really hurt)
Kenley owned the loss. It was on him for walking a batter with two outs. That almost always bites you! Move on, nothing to see here folks!