The 25-year-old California native finished his second season with the X's in 2006. Over those two campaigns, the 6'4", 215 pound backstop posted a combined .309 batting average over 181 games totaling 46 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs and 104 RBI.
Defensively, Grossman caught 26 games in 2005 as the team's backup at the position and 82 games in 2006 as the X's primary catcher. He served as the club's designated hitter in the remainder of the games.
Cardinals Director of Minor League Operations John Vuch is high on the signing. "Grossman is kind of an intriguing guy for us - he's hit everywhere he's been and according to those that have seen him, his defense is solid. Offensive catchers are hard to come by, so we'll be interested to see what we've got when he comes to Spring Training. He was the league's All-Star catcher in a pretty solid independent league, so he should be able to hold his own for us."
One year ago, an identical transaction sent Grossman to Spring Training with the New York Yankees organization before he was returned to the Explorers in early April.
Grossman played collegiate baseball for the University of California, where after his junior season was a semi-finalist for the Johnny Bench Award as one of the nation's top collegiate catchers. Despite professional interest being expressed in him following that standout junior season, Grossman returned for his senior year, only to suffer a partial tear of the rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder.
"I was not drafted after my junior year because I was going back for my senior year," Grossman told Scout.com. "Then my senior year, I injured my shoulder and nobody drafted me. I took a year off to rehab the shoulder and then played independent ball."
Returning to Sioux City for a third season certainly isn't what is on Grossman's mind now, considering how he felt about independent ball this time last year. "Don't get me wrong. I loved the idea of playing baseball everyday as a job. But some of the travel and some of the fields weren't all that great… It is not really a system designed to help you move up. They just want to field the best possible team. I prefer not to go back and do it again."
While at Berkeley, Grossman was a teammate of the Cardinals' eighth-round draft pick in 2006, Allen Craig. The shortstop began his professional career at State College this past summer, earning Mid-Season All-Star recognition in the New York-Penn League before his season ended prematurely due to a knee injury.
Perhaps the two ex-Bears will be re-united in the Cardinals system in 2007.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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