There’s a lesson to be learned from Brandon Grogan’s recruiting experience, and he’s not afraid to share it.
His advice: Hit the books as hard as you hit the field, kids. It matters.
Grogan hoped to play baseball at UC San Diego, and when talks began to develop between the two camps, it appeared the two-sport star at Escalon High School was on the cusp of realizing a dream.
That dream never materialized.
Grogan said he failed to the meet the university’s SAT requirements and lamented his lack of focus in the classroom his first two years of high school.
It ends well for Grogan, though, a speed merchant who played three varsity seasons for Cougars baseball coach Greg Largent.
Grogan recently signed with California Lutheran, a three-time Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion and small-scale Major League Baseball prospect factory. The Kingsmen have produced 24 draft picks since 1969, including 11 in the new millennium. Cal Lutheran was 32-12 this season and reached the SCIAC tournament final, losing out on the conference’s automatic playoff berth with a 4-2 loss to La Verne.
Grogan said he was awarded a substantial academic scholarship to attend the NCAA Division III university in Thousand Oaks.
“The coaches are extremely friendly, and the players were welcoming when I got there,” Grogan said of coach Marty Slimak and his staff. “The area is beautiful, and the campus is nice.
“Thankfully, the program is good, too. I didn’t have to think about that as much, because I was blessed that they have a good coaching staff and ballclub.”
Grogan finished his prep career with astonishing numbers for one of the Stanislaus District’s premier small-school programs. In 85 games, he batted .406 with 91 hits, 59 runs, 54 RBIs and 23 doubles. He stole 10 or more bases in each of the last two seasons, including a career-high 15 this spring. He capped his career with back-to-back all-Trans Valley League first-team selections.
“He’s got explosive speed and plenty of capabilities,” Largent said. “He has the potential to be an excellent player.”
Escalon was 51-33-2 and qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs in each of Grogan’s three varsity seasons. The Cougars reached the Division V championship game in 2013, falling to Capital Christian in a game that still haunts the outfielder.
“I wish we had gone farther in the playoffs, but it’s baseball and baseball is full of failures. The tide just didn’t always go our way,” Grogan said. “My sophomore year, when we lost to Capital Christian, things didn’t go our way. You just have to shrug your shoulders and know if you had another opportunity, you’d get them.”
Grogan was recruited to play outfield for the Kingsmen and will spend the summer preparing to compete for a starting spot. He plays travel ball with NorCal Valley of Modesto and will continue private hitting lessons and weightlifting.
“I’m just going to do all the extra work it takes to compete at the next level,” Grogan said. “The step from high school to college is a significant difference.”
He hopes this step is the first of many. Grogan would love nothing more than to join the pantheon of MLB prospects to come through the Cal Lutheran program.
“When you see guys getting picked up and drafted from a school you’re going to, it’s cool, and it drives you to get there,” he said. “You want to get on that bandwagon. Hopefully, that door opens for you. Only a select few get to do that.”