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Thursday, March 7, 2019

Mark Grater, Pitching Assessment - 15

Originally published April 24, 2011
Sent back down to the minors in May 1993, Mark Grater didn't feel like he had the chance to really show what he had. In six outings for the Tigers, totaling five innings, Grater'd given up three earned runs on six hits.

"There's nothing I can do," Grater told his hometown Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after the demotion. "If they're going to judge me on five innings, then they're going to judge me on five innings."

As it turned out, anyone judging Grater's career would only have those five innings from 1993, and three earlier innings from 1991, in which to base an assessment.

Sent back down that May, Grater's major league career was over. His affiliated career would end soon, as well, after eight seasons as a pro. But he has stayed in baseball, going on to serve as a coach and coordinator.

Grater's career began in 1986, taken by the Cardinals in the 23rd round of the draft out of Florida International University. He played that season at rookie Johnson City, the next at single-A Savannah.

Though he still posted an ERA of 3.04 in 50 appearances, the young relief pitcher had hoped for more closing opportunities at Savannah, he told The Beaver County Times.

"It was a frustrating year for me, Grater told The Times. "I wasn't really the stopper like I was the year before. I could never get my fastball to drop It kept hanging."

Grater stayed in single-A through 1989, then made the jump to AAA Louisville in May 1990. He split that year between Louisville and AA Arkansas, posting a 2.99 ERA between them.

Then, in June 1991, Grater got his call up to St. Louis. After his call-up, Grater joined another Pittsburgh-area native John Burkett in the majors.

"I want to establish myself up here when I get the opportunity, like (Burkett) did last year," Grater told the Tri-State Sports and News Service. "I'm not taking anything for granted."

Grater established himself in three outings, all of three innings. While he didn't give up a run, Grater was sent back down. He signed the next year with the Tigers, playing the season at AAA Toledo.

With the Tigers in spring 1993, Grater had a good spring, good enough to earn a call-up in early May. But problems coming in and getting batters out consistently led to his demotion before the month was out.

"I liked him in spring training because he went right after hitters and showed no fear," Tigers manager Sparky Anderson told The Times after sending Grater back down. "He hasn't been the same pitcher since he came back to us. We're putting him in some pretty tough spots and he's not making the big pitch to get out of jams."

His playing career ended with more than 100 saves in the minors. He briefly tried a return in spring 1995, but a weightlifting accident resulted in Grater failing the required physical, according to The Allegheny Times.

Grater has since gone on to be a coach and a coordinator, most recently as the Nationals' pitching rehab coordinator.

But in 1998, with his coaching career underway, Grater told The Beaver County Times, judged the job as everything he had hoped.

"I really love it," Grater told The Times after a year as a coach at short-season New Jersey. "There hasn't been a day that's gone by that I haven't shown up to the ballpark with a smile on my face. I thought coaching would be something I'd enjoy but it's even better than I thought."
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,069
Made the Majors:1,127-36.7%
Never Made Majors:1,942-63.3%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 467
10+ Seasons in the Minors:280

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