Outfielder Adam Groesbeck was drafted in the 38th round Wednesday by the Atlanta Braves, adding yet another Air Force athlete to the discussion on professional sports.
Groesbeck led the Falcons in batting (.410 average) and hits (91) this past season. He established a school record with a .458 average in Mountain West games. The leadoff hitter also scored 60 runs, hit eight home runs and drove in 42 over 50 games. His nine stolen bases in 11 attempts paced the Falcons.
After Griffin Jax (third round in 2016 by the Twins) and Jacob DeVries (38th round in 2016 by the Indians; did not sign), Groesbeck becomes the third Air Force player in his class to hear his name called in the MLB Draft.
Groesbeck now becomes part of an ever-growing list from the recently graduated class at the academy to earn at least a look from a professional team. On Thursday, basketball player Hayden Graham took place in a pre-draft workout with the Denver Nuggets.
Jax, who gave up his eligibility as a senior after signing with Minnesota last summer, has been at extended spring training in Florida awaiting his minor league assignment.
In football, Samuel Byers (Falcons), Jacob Onyechi (Saints, Packers), Jalen Robinette (Patriots, Bills), Weston Steelhammer (Eagles) and Ryan Watson (Cardinals) have attended rookie minicamps.
The Department of Defense had altered its rules a year ago to allow athletes to serve on ready reserves and immediately pursue professional sports after graduating from service academies. That shortlived rule was changed again, with an ill-timed announcement coming down during the NFL Draft, and athletes again must serve at least two years on active duty before applying for a change in status to be freed to play professionally.
Members of the senior class are trying to find a way to be grandfathered in under the previous policy which was in place for the majority of their final year at the academy, but asked Thursday if there had been any updates in that quest an athlete told The Gazette: “Nope, nothing of note.”
Even if the policy isn’t budged, Groesbeck wouldn’t be precluded from giving professional baseball a try. Reliever Ben Yokley (29th round in 2015), catcher Garrett Custons (10th round in 2013), first baseman Karl Bolt (15th round in 2007) and outfielder Mike Thiessen (42nd round in 2001) logged time in the minor leagues by using available leave. None made it beyond two years professionally, but there would be no reason Groesbeck would not at least have that avenue available to him.
If nothing else, he’s now a part of this bigger discussion.