It all started on July 6 in East Cobb, Ga., north of Atlanta. Grosser’s travel team had been eliminated from an event there, so in the early afternoon he started out for Salem to play in the Commonwealth Games, an annual Virginia all-star tournament.
About 10 minutes into the trip, the car in which he was riding, driven by another player’s father, suffered a flat tire. There was no spare.
“We were like, yeah, we’re probably not even going to make the game,” Grosser recalled.
But along came a knight in a gold 2005 Chevy Avalanche. Brian Bailey, whose son Chase Bailey is a Robinson player who had stayed behind in East Cobb for another tournament, passed the breakdown, saw the baseball duffel bags at roadside and recognized the driver. He picked up Grosser and Oakton’s Mitch Carroll, another stranded Commonwealth Games player, and headed north.
Grosser arrived in the middle innings. Five minutes after being issued a jersey and cap, he was warming up at the directive of Potomac Coach Mike Covington.
Grosser, a wiry 6 feet 4 inches and 195 pounds, entered the 1-1 game in the sixth for the North team, hurled six sparkling innings and tickled as high as 94 mph on one scout’s radar gun and 95 mph on another. His slider was breaking in units of feet. Murmurs rippled through the stadium.
“I kind of felt the buzz, definitely,” Grosser said.
Scouts thrust questionnaires toward him as he exited the stadium, routine paperwork that Grosser did not even know existed. Now he has a Boston-based sports attorney advising him, and some evaluators say that Grosser could be selected in the top five rounds in the Major League Baseball first-year player draft, set for June 6-8.
“One scout said to me, ‘Jesus, I could get fired over this,’ ” Covington said. “ ‘This guy is right here in my back yard and I haven’t even heard of him.’ ”
There were many reasons for that. For one, Grosser plays on a high school team whose best seasons in the past dozen years have been a game over .500. He quarterbacks the Titans’ football team, so when he would pitch during the fall, he was not particularly sharp. He had not thrown all that well early last spring while he was recovering from knee surgery; he was named a second-team all-Patriot District third baseman and not honored as a pitcher. And because he already had committed to George Mason, his summer league coaches were more interested in showcasing pitchers still looking for college deals, said Grosser’s father, Saul.