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Taylor Grover's 'Perfectly Crazy' Year Ends With Baltimore Orioles

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Taylor Grover (Photo by Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald/Getty Images)

A month ago, righthander Taylor Grover was looking to find any team who was interested in getting him back to affiliated ball. On Thursday he got to hear his name called with the first pick in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

It’s a perfectly crazy finish to what has been a crazy year for the 27-year-old. Released by the D-backs at the end of spring training, Grover ended up pitching for the independent American Association’s Chicago Dogs before being traded to the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks at the end of the year.

He was touching 100 (and even 102) pretty regularly, but until the Reds signed him in late November, he couldn’t get much of any interest on bringing him back to affiliated baseball.

“I was kind of sick so I didn’t travel today. I was laying in bed. I thought, yeah, I’ll stream the Rule 5 draft. About the time i got a connection, the Orioles were up for the first pick. I could have sworn I heard my name. I thought wait, what? I was trying to looking at the play-by-play of it. I was freaking out. I’m running all around with no Internet connection trying to figure it out. I’m over the moon (about it),” Grover said.

But around the time the Reds signed Grover, Rob Friedman, known on Twitter as the Pitching Ninja, posted video of Grover throwing 102. That video did get passed around enough that all of a sudden, there were a number of teams considering taking the hard-throwing righthander in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.

Multiple teams at the top of the Rule 5 draft received calls from teams looking to trade up. While it can’t be sure that they were all aiming to land Grover, he did go with the first pick.

When Grover was coming out of South Carolina-Aiken he was able to touch 94-95 mph. A steady diet of exercise, weighted ball work and other exercises helped Grover steadily gain velocity. He touched 100 mph for the first time in the summer of 2017 while pitching for Double-A Portland. By this summer, he was getting to 100 mph on a regular basis.

“I remember we played Sioux City at home. It is like a bitter-sweet story. I walked the bases loaded and then struck out the side. The last guy I struck out it was 100-100-102,” Grover said. “I remember the whole stadium just erupted. It was a pretty amazing moment. After that i kept hitting 100-101 regularly.”

Because Grover is a minor league Rule 5 pick, he is now an Orioles prospect with no possibility he will have to be offered back to the Reds. The Reds do receive $24,000 for being the one who first rediscovered Grover.

“He's had a velocity uptick in indy ball and has very good strikeout numbers. It's a great arm to pick up in the minor league phase of the rule 5,” Orioles GM Mike Elias said.

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