East County Sports

Foothiller Musgrove returns to join Pads

Joe Musgrove with the Foothillers in 2010


Musgrove started and pitched a perfect first inning in the 2016 Future Stars Game at Petco Park, getting three ground-ball outs against Yoan Moncada, Manny Margot, and Raimel Tapia.

By Nick Pellegrino
ECS staff writer

SAN DIEGO – A decade after claiming the 2010 East County Player of the Year award, fireballer Joe Musgrove, a product of Grossmont High, officially marked his return to Southern California as the newest member of the San Diego Padres.

The Friars acquired Musgrove, 28, from the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this week in a three-team swap which included the New York Mets.

“Going into this offseason, I knew the chances of my being traded were high,” said Musgrove. “It just so happened to be my home town.

“It feels so special, man. And my parents are just as excited or even more excited about me being here.

“My dream about being a professional baseball player started here at Petco (Park) and Qualcomm (Stadium), so my dreams have come true.”

Musgrove has spent the last three seasons with the Pirates, posting an 18-26 record in 58 appearances.

After Musgrove pitched his way to become  the 2010 Grossmont Hills League Player of the Year, he was originally drafted by Toronto in the first round (46th overall), His major league debut came against the Blue Jays when he made a historic appearance for the Houston Astros. Called up for emergency relief, Musgrove equaled a half-century-old mark with eight strikeouts in his MLB debut to keep the Astros in the 2016 pennant race.

A season later, Musgrove tied with Lance McCullers, Jr. – son of the former Padres pitcher – for sixth on the Houston roster for most victories with seven, aiding the Astros to a World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers following a series triumph over the New York Yankees for the American League flag. Both series lasted seven ballgames.

However, he went from a World Series team to a club (in Pittsburgh) that “won’t be in the same situation for the next few years.”

Joe Musgrove (far left) during a mound meeting in 2010.

Still, in the COVID-19 shortened season, Musgrove established career bests in ERA and strikeout ratio.

“I just dove into with the guys around me,” he added. “I made a few adjustments in my arm delivery to try to be more consistent. I attribute my solid season to the people around me.  They gave me confidence in what I throw.”

Musgrove believed his experience in Pittsburgh will aid his time with the Padres.

“We can be considered a contending team — there is so much talent here. I will love having these guys playing behind me.”

Following an outstanding rep career with the Foothillers, Musgrove was on the radar of all MLB clubs when starting his pro career. Playing between low-Class A Quad Cities, high-Class A Lancaster, and Corpus Christi by leading the minors with 12.38 strikeouts per nine innings while combining for a 12-1 (1.88 ERA) record.

Now a  6-foot-5, 255-pound right-hander, Musgrove owns a three-pitch arsenal of pitches, pounding the strike zone with a quality fastball and strong strikeout-walk ratio, something useful in pitching-friendly Petco Park.

His final outing for the Hillers in 2010 also was historic, blanking Helix, 8-0, for the CIF-San Diego Section  Division II championship on June 5, 2010. The junior tossed a 2-hit shutout for the championship, as the top-seeds whipped the second-seeded Scotties in an all-East County clash

Musgrove is congratulated by head coach Jim Earley after hitting a go-ahead home run against visiting West Hills in 2010.

“My dad was a cop for 20 years in San Diego — he’s a private investigator now — and he had some really close friends when I was a kid, and Kevin Mitchell was one of them. They introduced me to the game at an early age and grew my love for the game.””Jake Peavy was my favorite pitcher for the Padres. He showed his personality and attitude on the field, while I was always afraid to show my emotions. But he was a professional, so I saw that I could compete and show my passion — it gave me confidence that what I was doing was okay.”

Musgrove grew up with the Grossmont-Helix rivalry. Now he will face the Dodgers.

“I grew up in San Diego with the ‘Beat L.A.’ chant,” he recalled. “That was ingrained in me when I was growing up. Now, all the pieces are there, and making it into the playoffs (in 2010) gave the team the experience to prepare and become mentally ready .

“It doesn’t just take a talented team.  It takes a little bit of grit; a little bit of personality,; a little bit of swagger to make a good team.

Could Musgrove be the final piece to put the Padres over the top to claim the franchise’s third-ever National League pennant or even a World Series title?

“That’s what you play for. In Houston, your expectations and your desire for that caliber of baseball just raise the bar completely. You can pitch differently with All-Stars behind you, so coming here is really exciting.

Musgrove, who typically spends his offseasons in Banker’s Hill, is now residing in Pacific Beach.

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