June 5, 2000
PULLMAN, Wash. -- After leaving his mark on the Cougar baseball program with his raw power and strong arm in the outfield, Washington State University baseball player Jason Grove has decided to forgo his senior baseball campaign after being selected by the defending World Champion New York Yankees in the third round of the 2000 Amateur Baseball Draft Monday morning in New York.
Grove, who was not ranked in the top-100 in a pre-draft analysis by Baseball America, was the 98th overall selection of the 2000 draft and was the fourth player drafted out of the state of Washington. With his third round selection, Grove becomes the highest draft choice out of WSU since 1991 when All-Americans Aaron Sele and Scott Hatteberg were first round choices by the Boston Red Sox. Both Hatteberg (Red Sox) and Sele (Mariners) are currently in the Major Leagues. Todd Belitz was the last highest draft choice with his fourth round selection in the 1997 draft by Tampa Bay. Grove was scouted and will eventually be signed by Yankee area scout Gus Quattlebaum.
"I can't really explain how I feel, but this is a lifelong dream come true," Grove said from his home in Walla Walla, Wash. "The Yankees stuck by me through my injury and that really gave me confidence. I am excited to get my professional career started and pursue my lifelong dream of playing professional baseball."
The junior slugger entered the 2000 season with high acclaim after being named a consensus preseason All-American. He was previewed as the top college prospect in the state of Washington by several area scouts and received a preseason ranking by Baseball America as being one of the top 30 college players available for the 2000 draft. A broken bone in his right hand sidelined him for over a month and a half and he never played at full strength during his final season at WSU.
Regardless of the injury, Grove still managed to put up impressive numbers, finishing third on the team with a .314 batting average and clubbed three home runs in 28 starts. He managed an impressive 14-game hitting streak to conclude the 2000 season, hitting .351 (20x57) during that stretch. When he connected on his third home run of the season Mar. 12 vs. Cal State-Northridge, Grove moved into a tie for fifth place with current Seattle Mariner John Olerud with 33 career home runs.
"My three years at WSU were a great time and I have a lot of positive memories of Pullman as I pursue professional baseball," Grove said. "I would like to thank all of my coaches and teammates for helping make my dream a reality."
For his WSU career, Grove hit at an amazing .349 clip in 117 career games. His .393 batting average in 1999 ranks seventh in the Cougar record books and his 18 home runs during his sophomore season ranks seventh as well.
While it is not certain, Grove announced he will meet with Yankee officials later this week to discuss his contract and then will most likely open his professional career just down the road from Yankee Stadium with the Staten Island Yankees in the New York-Penn League. The short-season, Single-A league starts in mid June and ends in early September.
Grove now joins fellow Cougar Ray Hattenburg in professional baseball who signed last week as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals. For complete draft coverage of other Cougar baseball players, please visit the official site of WSU Athletics at www.wsucougars.com.
Career statistics for: Jason Grove
Year AVG GP-GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB-ATT 1998.... .323 45-42 161 39 52 13 2 12 31 18 34 0-1 1999.... .393 41-41 173 54 68 10 1 18 61 31 44 2-5 2000.... .314 31-28 105 21 33 9 1 3 17 25 29 0-0 TOTALS.. .349 117-111 439 114 153 32 4 33 109 74 107 2-6
Copy by Jeff R. Evans
WSU Sports Information Alumni