June 26, 2013
HOUSTON - Washington State alumnus Adam Nelubowich has signed with the Houston Astros and been assigned to the Tri-City ValleyCats in the New York-Penn League.
Nelubowich was the Astros' 18th round selection in the MLB First-Year Player Draft held earlier this month. The ValleyCats are located in Troy, N.Y., and are the Short Season A affiliate for Houston.
Nelubowich, who spent time in the outfield and at third base for the Cougars in 2013, was selected as a third baseman by the Astros. The Stony Plain, Alberta native batted .299 with a team-leading 14 doubles last spring. He added three triples, three home runs and 34 RBI. He was the only Cougar to have his name in the batting order for all-55 games in 2013.
Nelubowich was the third of four Washington State players drafted in 2013 and the only one who has signed. He is the fifth Cougar drafted by the Astros all-time and the first since the Astros moved to the American League. Others include pitcher Steve Quealey (18th round, 1979), pitcher Guy Normand (13th round, 1986), pitcher Mark Small (17th round, 1989) and catcher Kevin Scott (32nd round, 1989). Small pitched in 16 MLB games for the Astros in 1996.
The New York-Penn League is the oldest, continuously operated Class A league in professional baseball. It originated in 1939 as the Pennsylvania-Ontario New York League and became the NYPL prior to the 1957 season.
Nelubowich is slated to become the 49th former Cougar to play in the current version of the New York-Penn League. The first was Nick August (WSU 1959-61) who spent the second of his four professional seasons with the Erie (Pa.) Sailors in the Minnesota Twins' organization. Former Cougars and MLB players Dan Frisella (Auburn, 1966), Small (Auburn, 1989) and Todd Belitz (Hudson Valley, 1997) all made stops in the NYPL. Most recently, Jeremy Johnson (Mahoning Valley) and Matt Way (Williamsport) pitched in the league during the 2009 season.