Grove Worthy Of MLB Selection

Shawn Rine Staff Writer

WHEELING — Generally speaking we here at the newspapers keep a keen eye on the happenings of the Major League Baseball Draft, especially when someone with local ties has an opportunity of being selected. Such was not the case Monday night.

It came as a bit of a shock to learn late that night that former Wheeling Park all-stater Michael Grove had been selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 68th overall pick in the second round.

Don’t misunderstand. The right-hander for West Virginia University both looks and plays the part of a Major League Baseball player. It’s just that he hasn’t competed in more than a year after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. It would not have come as a surprise if Grove, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, was selected in the later rounds, given the injury.

But it only takes one team to fall in love with a player. As it turns out, the Dodgers have a history of making such picks, having done so previously with both Caleb Ferguson and Walker Buehler.

”We feel very comfortable and confident in our player development and medical staff’s ability to get these pitchers back to where they were,” Dodgers director of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino said in a published report. “The Walker Buehler example is a good one, and we hope to repeat it with Grove.

“We felt his talent level matched that pick, and where he was post-Tommy John surgery we felt comfortable.”

When healthy Grove has shown he can deal at an elite level. He offers a pair of plus-pitches in a fastball that has hit 95 on the gun and consistently registers between 91-94, as well as a slider that has been described as both ”hard and biting”.

On a personal level I couldn’t be happier for Michael and his family.

This is a young man who has always been polite, humble and well-adjusted. Except for his elevated skill level, he’s the same guy he was back at Wheeling Park. You root for good people, and Grove certainly fits that bill.

Coach Randy Mazey has asked that all WVU players wait until the draft is completed before interviews take place. So stick with us for more in-depth info on Grove in the near future.

What a Year

This marked my 20th year of covering local sports and it was just as fulfilling as the previous 19. The pride and poise with which our area athletes perform never ceases to amaze me.

I’ve said it before and will do so again: there may be states that possess more raw talent, but nobody takes more pride than our kids in terms of playing for the name on the front of their jersey. They may attend rival schools, but the Ohio Valley is one big community. The genuine pride we take in seeing our neighbors succeed should warm your heart.

Not everybody gets a trophy, which is the way it should be, but our area continually turns out one champion after another. To those that have graduated and will be moving on, I sincerely thank you for the memories and wish you nothing but the best in future endeavors.

Llanas on Board

In case you missed it, Wheeling Jesuit filled one of its primary coaching positions earlier this week when it was announced that Mike Llanas has been named to succeed Debbie Buff as coach of the women’s basketball program. It’s a solid hire as Llanas has won big at all of his previous stops.

However, the most public position at the school — men’s basketball coach — is still open. Today marks one month since Danny Sancomb was unceremoniously let go by the school.

There are still no definitive answers as to why Sancomb was fired. That’s troublesome enough. But when it’s June 7 and your program doesn’t have a coach, you’re in a world of hurt.

Sancomb built a solid foundation, up to and including being a yearly member of the national Top 20. In one fell swoop, that is going to come to an end.

Recruits have to be uneasy — not to mention nobody is out there right now trying to lure more to Wheeling — and potential candidates have to view the position similar to the way you or I would if someone passed us a hand grenade that’s pin had been removed.

A program that made itself a player on the national stage has crumbled from within. It’s not going to be an easy fix. It also didn’t have to be this way.

Shawn Rine can be reached via email at srine@theintelligencer.net

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