By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
After missing the entire 2016 season, Kory Groves proved to the Orioles’ organization that he is not only healthy, but ready to contribute at a high level.
Photo: Baby Birdland
Since earning a promotion to the South Atlantic League, Groves emerged as one of the top relievers in a very talented Delmarva bullpen.
A 34th round pick in the 2015 draft out Division II Cal State Monterey Bay, Groves appeared in just 17 games between the Gulf Coast League and Aberdeen before surgery forced him to sit out for a year.
In 2017, Groves appeared in 33 games for Delmarva, earning a 3-5 record with a 2.58 earned run average. Over 59.1 innings, Groves limited opposing hitters to a .260 average while striking out 41 and walking just 14.
What stands out the most about Groves’ this year is his complete dominance during the second half of the South Atlantic League season. Through the first half of the year, Groves was giving up nearly five runs/nine innings, had a K/BB ratio of 10:10, and allowed opposing batters to hit .365 off of him.
The second half of the season was an entirely different story. Groves earned run average dropped to 1.37, his K/BB ratio jumped to 31:4, and his opponents’ batting average dropped to a lowly .196. Over his final 17 innings of work, Groves gave up just 2 earned runs while walking just one.
The story of Kory Groves is exactly why covering minor league baseball is never boring. John Devine, a reporter for the Monterey Herald in California, provided a brief writeup on Groves in 2015, right after he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles. Devine reported that scouts in attendance at the 2015 California Collegiate Athletic Association conference tournament had no idea who Kory Groves was.
Taking the mound against UC-San Diego (#26 in the nation at the time) in the first round of the CCAA tournament, Groves went 7.2 innings while giving up just 3 hits and 0 earned runs. The scouts in attendance took notice, even though, as Groves said to Devine, “they were there to see someone else.”
The former Division II reliever who was not on a single team’s radar has now notched over 91 innings of professional baseball with a 2.06 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He could also potentially begin his second full season of professional baseball with the High-A Frederick Keys in 2018. Ain’t baseball great?