BRADENTON -- This time last season, Robbie Grossman was getting accustomed to the Florida State League.
Or more to the point, what it took to play in the Florida State League.
He was growing used to the heat. The rain. The short bus trips to cities such as Tampa and Clearwater.
“It’s totally different than any other league we play in,” he said. “Most of the time, you’re on a five, six-hour bus trip. Here, the longest one is three, which is nicer -- but the turnaround’s a lot faster.”
Back in Bradenton for his second stint with the high Single-A Marauders, Grossman know all the intricacies of playing in the FSL, home to the 2-year-old Marauders, whose parent club is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Now he can focus on what’s important -- taking another step up the organization’s ladder.
Grossman spent all of last year in Bradenton, and though most of his teammates from last summer are in Double-A Altoona, Grossman said he isn’t too concerned with where he is.
“I’m happy I get to go out and play baseball every day,” said Grossman, 21. “That’s about it.”
Drafted out of high school in the summer of 2008, Grossman batted .245 in 125 games last year in helping Bradenton make the league playoffs. Asked to appraise his first stint at high-A ball, and Grossman acknowledged there were positives and negatives.
His numbers bear that out. Grossman hit 21 points lower than he did in ’09 -- but he cut down his strikeouts from 164 to 118 and scored 84 runs.
Grossman is considered a table setter, a guy who needs to get on base and make things happen with his legs. Consequently, he was second in the FSL last season in walks (66) and third in runs.
“This game is filled with adversity,” Grossman said prior to doubling twice and scoring two runs during Monday morning’s 8-1 win over the Palm Beach Cardinals. “Just going out there and having fun with the guys every day -- that’s what it’s all about.”
It’s been a typical Grossman summer thus far. He began Monday morning tops on the team in runs (16) and walks (17), while posting a .402 on-base percentage and a .238 batting average.
“Robbie needs to continue to solidify his swing and his approach to maximize his strengths as a hitter,” said Kyle Stark, the Pirates’ director of player development, “and allow for more consistent impact. High school players typically have a different track, but all players in our system are approached similarly in that we look at what the player needs to work on and match that with the appropriate level.”
For his part, Grossman said he just plans to work hard. He can’t control where the organization puts him, just as he can’t control Florida’s heat and rain.
Like everything else, however, he is learning.
“This league’s definitely different than any other league I’ve played in or any one I’ve heard about. It’s just a learning experience, this whole thing,” Grossman said. “Whatever happens, happens. But definitely, my goals are set high.”