DURHAM, N.C. – Diploma in hand from Princeton University, right-hander Ben Gross elected to enroll in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and join the Blue Devil roster for the upcoming 2019 campaign.
“We’re fortunate Ben decided to forgo an opportunity with the Houston Astros to show up on campus this fall,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “He distinguished himself as one of the top pitchers in the Ivy League over the past two years. Ben has pitched in a number of different roles both during his time at Princeton and in top summer leagues across the country. He brings a high velocity, high spin rate fastball along with a lot of experience and Ben will no doubt play a large role in our staff’s success this coming spring.”
A 2018 second team All-Ivy selection, Gross posted four wins and 4.47 ERA in nine starts. Against Ivy foes, he was 3-3 with 40 strikeouts in 39.1 innings, limiting opposing hitters to a .239 batting average. Gross fanned at least seven batters in four straights starts from March 31 to April 21, including a complete game shutout versus Penn April 14.
Gross’ senior season culminated in a Major League Baseball Draft selection as the Houston Astros picked him in the 34th round (No. 1032 overall). He was first Tiger taken in the MLB Draft since Tyler Servais’ 27th round selection in 2015.
After playing in two games his first two Tiger seasons, Gross led Princeton with 48 strikeouts as a junior in 2017. He began the season with a five-inning, two-hit performance versus the Blue Devils March 4 and allowed two earned runs or fewer in his first six starts.
Gross is one of three transfers to join the Blue Devils this season along with outfielder Kyle Gallagher (Cornell) and pitcher Eli Herrick (Bellevue). He is also ninth in a list of Duke graduate student transfers over the past six seasons, joining the likes of Ethan DeCaster (Creighton), Sam Granoff (San Francisco), Thomas Crispi (Columbia), Brian McAfee (Cornell), Kellen Urbon (Cornell), Ryan Deitrich (Penn) and Chris Kono (Holy Cross).
In addition to 17 newcomers, the Blue Devils return 17 letterwinners from this past season’s squad that reached the first NCAA Super Regional in program history. The 2018 Blue Devils also set program records in wins (45) and ACC wins (18) and finished the year as a consensus top 20 team in the national polls.