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Arizona Selects Gino Groover (3B) at #48

Another surprising pick, another college bat.

LuJames (Gino) Groover III

Ht: 6’ 2” | Wt: 212 | B-T: R-R
School: NC State 4YR
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.2

Tools| Hit: 60 Power: 55 Run: 30 Field: 40 Arm: 45 Overall: 50

The Rundown|

Gino Groover is one of those draft prospects who can be immediately polarizing. Depending on the outlet, Groover was anywhere from the #40 overall prospect (Fangraphs) all the way down to #62 (MLB Pipeline). There are those that will feel that selecting Groover at #38 was a reach. Then there are those who will feel he went right about where he belongs. Groover may well possess the fastest bat in the draft and, somewhat surprisingly, makes a high level of contact, despite the aggressive swing and his aggressive approach. It is his lack of speed more than anything else which raises concerns about his defensive future. Despite the lack of speed, Groover is a highly athletic player with good hands and surprising range given how lead-footed he is. His arm is still a work in progress, with his cross-diamond throw accuracy being the big knock. While he’ll never scream the ball across the diamond like Alcantara or Glaus, his arm has enough in it where he makes the throw across the diamond without much issue. Given that 2023 is Groover’s first season playing at 3B instead of 1B, it is understanding that he will need to continue being coached up at the position.

Here is what some of the bigger outlets have to say about the young man.

MLB Pipeline

Groover impressed scouts with his bat but wasn’t a regular on the showcase circuit and didn’t get much of a chance to show what he could do as a Georgia high school senior in the shortened 2020 season, so he went unpicked in the five-round Draft. He has continued to perform in college, at UNC Charlotte as a freshman and since transferring to North Carolina State, earning an invitation to try out for the U.S. collegiate national team last summer. There are few doubts that he can hit but many questions about where he fits defensively.

Groover has quality bat-to-ball skills and likes to attack pitchers early in the count. He has tremendous feel for the barrel and drills line drives from foul pole to foul pole, though his ability to make contact does cut into his walk totals. His right-handed swing is relatively flat but he has the hitting ability, bat speed and strength for 20-homer power if he can add more leverage.

With well-below-average speed and fringy at best arm strength, Groover’s defensive options are limited. Primarily a first baseman in his first two college seasons, he has moved to third base with the hope that he might be adequate there. He also has played second base and the outfield corners, and he does have fast hands, but his lack of quickness and range is a concern at any spot.


Groover has maybe the fastest hands in the entire draft. His swing isn’t always connected but his hands rip through the zone in the blink of an eye, and his contact rates are shockingly good for how hard he swings. He is a very dangerous hitter to all fields and was only vulnerable to swings and misses when Groover would chase at NC State, which wasn’t a ton. A transfer from UNC Charlotte, most aspects of his game still need polish, especially his defense. Groover often looks rushed and his throws frequently pull the first baseman off the bag, but his range and overall athleticism give him huge long-term ceiling with the glove. This is among the 2023 draft’s more volatile and exciting prospects.

Baseball America

In his freshman year at Charlotte, Groover hit .351/.381/.489 with four home runs and 14 doubles. He transferred to North Carolina State after that and has been a reliable hitter for the Wolfpack since, culminating in a .332/.430/.546 slash line in 2023 with 13 home runs and drastically improved strikeout and walk rates. He went from a 16.1% strikeout rate in 2022 to a 9.4% rate in 2023 and upped his walk rate from 10.2% to 13%. A 6-foot-2, 212-pound third baseman, Groover is a well-rounded hitter with a sound approach, solid contact skills and quality impact which has currently been accessed mostly to the pull side in games. Despite solid raw power, Groover has mostly been a contact hitter, but scouts believe he has the strength and physical projection to tap into more power at the next level. He has standout contact skills overall, with an 85% contact rate in 2023 and a 93% in-zone contact rate. He’s a heavy footed, well below-average runner who has a suspect defensive profile. Groover played mostly first base in 2022, but he slid over to third in 2023, though scouts think he’s a below-average defender there. He’ll be drafted for his bat and could go as high as the second round to a team confident in his hit and power combination.

A Highlight Reel

The Bard’s Take|

In his post draft interview, Ian Rebhan, Director of Amateur Scouting was very excited that Arizona was able to add one of the better, more proven college bats to the system. They have faith in his high ceiling hit/power combination and fully anticipate that he should be able to stick at third base. If the talent evaluators are right about his defensive ability, this pick makes a great deal more sense than at first blush, looking at just the grades and profile. This is going to be a true challenge for the system’s development team. They are going to need to drill down and get Groover back to the basics at third and then let him grow into the position from there. While his bat should play, he’ll need a defensive home to move through the system. Learning a position could slow his arrival to the Majors, but the reality is, he’s going to go as far as his bat will take him. It is encouraging that the front office feels he has a real defensive home, though one must wonder how much time will be spent on developing his glove if he really does hit as well as they are hoping.