Frisco RoughRiders right-hander Justin Grimm
isn't saying he threw his education away, but the Rangers pitching prospect admits he's learned a lot more on the mound since leaving the University of Georgia. And so far, he's getting high marks for his efforts.
Grimm, 6-2 with a 1.59 ERA in eight starts, was named Texas' Minor League Pitcher of the Month for April and has charged into May as the league ERA leader.
"I did a lot of work in the offseason, and I just tried to carry last season over into this season," Grimm said. "I attribute the work I did in the offseason and Spring Training to some of the pitching coaches."
The Rangers took Grimm out of Georgia in the fifth round of the 2010 Draft. In 2011, his first pro season, he split time between Class A Hickory and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and went 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA.
After a solid Spring Training, he broke camp with Frisco and was named the team's Opening Day starter, thanks to an improved changeup to complement his quality fastball.
"My goal was to just start out with Frisco and not necessarily be the Opening Day starter," he said. "When I found out, I got goosebumps. It's something I wasn't expecting."
Grimm wasn't sure what his capabilities were when he committed to Georgia, which pursued him despite the fact that he underwent arm surgery his junior year of high school. He first leaned toward junior college, but then at the urging of his family and his agent, he chose Georgia over Auburn and went 6-12 with a 5.80 ERA over three college seasons.
"I probably should've learned a little more in college, but we were just trying to win," Grimm said. "It was just a 'see how hard you can throw' type attitude, I guess, and try to impress people instead of learning how to pitch. But I wouldn't trade the experience. I'm happy where I am right now and just have to keep pushing forward."
Grimm is part of a staff that has four pitchers in the league's top 10 and boasts the best ERA at 2.78. The first-place RoughRiders held a five-game lead over Midland in the South Division entering Monday.
Though he admittedly didn't buy into college baseball to the degree he could have, Grimm showed enough raw ability, and a fastball topping out around 96 mph, to impress the Rangers into taking him in the fifth round with a signing bonus of $825,000.
Until that point, Grimm was thinking about returning to Georgia for his senior season, because he did appreciate the value of his overall education.
"I was expecting to go back-half of the first round up until the second," Grimm said. "I did get calls from teams then, but it wasn't enough money in my eyes to leave school and stop pursuing my education. In the fifth round the Rangers just said, 'Hey we'll try to work out a deal,' and I was good with that, so we ended up coming to a deal."
The Rangers were emerging as American League powers, and Grimm realized he was about to improve his pitching know-how.
"I was happy with the way they sold how they develop pitchers," he said. "I'm glad I made the decision, and I'm glad the Rangers picked me up because I've learned so much."
Nick's slick: Tulsa's Nick Schmidt took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Arkansas on Sunday before Renny Osuna led off the inning with a double in the Drillers' 4-2 victory. The 26-year-old lefty would've been perfect through six, but he committed a throwing error in the third.
Four-pronged effort: Northwest Arkansas' combined no-hitter against Springfield on Thursday was the second in franchise history and the first for the home team at Arvest Ballpark. Kansas City's Greg Holland got it going in a rehab start and Chris Dwyer (who walked two and hit a batter), Brendan Lafferty and Kendal Volz kept it going for the 2-0 win.
Century mark: Corpus Christi's 4-2 victory over Frisco on Friday was the 1,000th career victory for 56-year-old manager Keith Bodie, a Texas League veteran who also managed the Wichita Wranglers.