Park grad Grove inks with Dodgers

WHEELING — Michael Grove’s love for the game of baseball is unquestionable.

Through all of the highs and lows during his career, Grove’s passion for baseball has kept him going.

Now, he is being rewarded for that determination and dedication to the game.

After being drafted 68th overall in the MLB Draft, Grove signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, a deal worth $1,229,500.

“It’s a dream come true,” Grove said. “It’s a fun life, to get paid to play baseball.

“It’s really important to have that security blanket in life, but I’m not really worried about the money right now. I just want to have fun playing baseball.”

The right-hander out of Wheeling Park High School and West Virginia University is currently traveling with the Arizona League Dodgers, the team’s Rookie Level minor league affiliate.

Grove was sidelined last spring at WVU after undergoing Tommy John Surgery but will continue his rehab at the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz., before starting his journey through the minor leagues.

“My arm feels great,” Grove said. “I’m at the tail end of my rehab. I have about five weeks left. I’ve just been throwing a lot of bullpens and getting my arm game ready.

“Then, I’ll be assigned back here (to the Arizona League Dodgers) or to their Instructional League or to a minor league affiliate.”

Grove was in the midst of a breakout season in 2017 for the Mountaineers when the elbow injury occurred, leaving his draft stock in question.

“When I got hurt, I was just upset that I couldn’t finish the season,” Grove said. “Then, I talked to some teams and thought that there could be a possibility of me being drafted.

“We were cautiously optimistic entering this year’s draft but didn’t really have any expectations. I was just hoping someone would take a chance on me.”

The Dodgers were that team, believing the 2.87 ERA, 3-1 record and 61 strikeouts in 47 innings before the injury during his sophomore year was just a glimpse of what lies ahead for the talented former Post 1 standout.

“I know some of their (Dodgers) guys saw me pitch live,” Grove said. “Los Angeles is also more progressive with looking at numbers on players and scouting that way.”

As the Dodgers selected Grove, making him the 87th Mountaineer in program history to be drafted, he watched as the dream that started on the ballfield in Wheeling became a reality before his very eyes.

“It’s crazy,” Grove said. “Growing up playing for Wheeling Park and now having this chance, it’s pretty cool.”

Grove certainly hasn’t been on this extraordinary journey alone. From the fields in Wheeling to the stadiums in the Big 12, he has been blessed with a great support system.

“My parents have been so supportive of me,” Grove said. “My dad helped me through the negotiation process and my mom always talked to me and gave me advice.

“My coaches and teammates have helped make this a fun experience, too.”

With the contract signing behind him and his rehab nearly wrapped up, there is only one thing left for Grove to do — play ball.