A Successful First Half to Grossman's Second Act
During his third full season as a professional and second season with the Bradenton Marauders, Robbie Grossman is the Florida State League's leader in runs scored.
The numbers lend credence to the argument that no player through the first half of the 2011 Florida State League had a better understanding of his role than Bradenton Marauders right fielder Robbie Grossman.
"As a leadoff man, I’m not the guy who is supposed to hit the three-run home run,” Grossman said. “I’m the guy who has got to get on base for the three-run home run to happen."
A year after being the Marauders’ youngest regular everyday player during the team’s inaugural season, Grossman found himself back in Bradenton for a second straight season with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ affiliate in the Class-A Advanced Florida State League when minor league rosters were released nearly three months ago. Rather than dwelling on the fact that his .245 average with 36 extra-base hits, 50 RBI and 84 runs scored in 125 games were not enough to prevent him from repeating a level in his climb through the organization’s ranks, Grossman took any perceived adversity and attempted to turn it into opportunity.
It was something he learned during the summer of his junior year of high school. Always a left-handed thrower and a right-handed hitter growing up, Grossman worked with his father and one of his coaches in hopes of developing into a switch hitter.
Out of his comfort zone, Grossman thought about abandoning the experiment before being forced to face an ultimatum from his summer league coach. He had to either work through the struggles or not play at all.
After all, baseball being a game where the struggles significantly outnumbered the triumphs is what drew Grossman to the sport as a youngster. The now 6-foot, 205-pound Grossman could have played quarterback or wide receiver at the small college level, but baseball was always his primary focus.
A native of San Diego whose family relocated to Cypress, Texas, he was plucked by the Pirates in the sixth round pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. After a lengthy negotiation process, he was lured away from his national letter of intent with the University of Texas later that summer.
If Grossman had enrolled in classes at Texas, he likely would have been one of the Longhorns just returning home to Austin after bowing out in the 2011 College World Series. Instead, he is in his third full season as a professional and leading the Florida State League with 60 runs scored and 51 walks through the first 67 games of the 2011 campaign.
In 61 of those first 67 games, Grossman hit leadoff and reached base 31 times in the first inning. He scored 21 first-inning runs in those 61 games.
Grossman’s current batting average of .270 is set to eclipse his personal best of .266, which he accomplished in 2009 during his first full professional season with the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League. He is also on pace to surpass his career-bests for runs scored, walks, on-base percentage and on-base plus slugging percentage.
While one would think the second half of the Florida State League season, which will begin for the Marauders on Thursday night in Fort Myers against the Miracle, would take on greater importance for Grossman, the 21-year-old is just looking to build on the positives and continue to wear a professional uniform with pride.
"I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world," Grossman said. "I was lucky enough that the Pirates found me and drafted me out of high school. I had the best of two worlds (with the University of Texas and the Pirates), but I could not pass up the chance to do something that 99 percent of the people dream of doing."