Former Cougars in Miami Marlins Camp
March 13, 2013
JUPITER, Fla. - For three former Washington State University baseball players, the dream of playing for the Miami Marlins is alive and well.
At this point, each former Cougar is at a different stage of his career, but the end goal is the same.
Gran was a seventh round selection by the Marlins in the 2008 MLB Draft. A third baseman at Washington State, he has played first base, second base, third base and shortstop during his professional career. A 2011 Arizona Fall League participant, Gran has been working primarily at second base this spring. He has spent the last-two seasons at Class AA Jacksonville (Fla.).
"I've been down here a few times, so I've learned how to take care of myself a little more," Gran said. "The key is getting used to seeing live pitching again after the offseason."
The Marlins made Conley a second round pick in 2011 and limited the left-handed pitcher to two innings of rookie ball that summer. Last year, Conley fanned 137 in 129 innings between Class A Greensboro (N.C.) and Advanced A Jupiter. He opened 2013 in Miami's big league camp and pitched two shutouts innings, Wednesday at the minor league complex.
"Being around guys who have been there before was really good for me," Conley said. "The amount of knowledge I gained there was incredible. At Washington State, coach (Gregg) Swenson does an amazing job of teaching you about routine and how to keep your priorities straight. He definitely prepared me for the everyday grind of professional baseball. I couldn't be happier about my experience at Washington State."
Claussen, a third baseman, was selected in the 34th round last season as part of the former Florida Marlins' first draft class with the new Miami moniker. He spent last summer in rookie ball and experiencing his first spring training.
"It's been go so far," Claussen said. "I'm still getting used to things, but having a couple of former Cougars out here has made it easier. I loved having the opportunity to get back to Pullman and work out during the offseason."
While the team of a short drive south to Miami is in the eyes of this trio, five former Cougars have worn a Miami Marlins' uniform long before the current version became an MLB expansion team.
Ed Bouchee and Jack Spring were teammates in 1956 when the Marlins were the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies in the International League. Wes Stock pitched in Miami during the 1959-60 International League seasons as property of the Baltimore Orioles. In 1983, Paul Noce stopped in Miami in the Class A Florida State League as a San Diego Padres' prospect. In 1988, the Marlins were an independent in the Florida State League when Clay Hill finished his career.
With the exception of Hill, every other former Cougar went on to play in MLB. For them, Miami was a stop along the way. For the current Marlins' farmhands, South Beach is a destination.
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS