Baseball – Former Wall, Monmouth University Ace Trey Dombroski Drafted by Houston Astros
On the days he pitches, Trey Dombroski has done a whole lot of winning as a standout left-handed pitcher at both Wall High School and, most recently, Monmouth University.
On Monday, he took one step closer toward joining an organization that has done more winning than any team in the American League since 2017.
The Houston Astros selected Dombroski Tuesday with their fourth-round pick, No. 133rd overall, in the 2022 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
"I'm beyond excited," Dombroski said. "From the start of this process, I thought Houston would probably be the best fit for me just because of how good they have been with developing pitchers and getting the most out of them with some of the things they do."
Dombroski is the second Shore Conference alumnus in as many years to be selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft, following up Shane Panzini's fourth-round selection by the Royals right out of Red Bank Catholic High School in the 2021 Draft.
Dombroski said he thought there was an outside chance he might here his name on Day 1 on Sunday, but when a rush of pitchers did not happen early in the Draft, his focus shifted to Monday. While his family and friends gathered at his parents house and focused their attention on the television and the live stream of the Draft, Dombroski's attention was fixated on the online Draft Tracker on MLB.com -- which was three or four picks ahead of the broadcast through most of Day 2.
"Going into the fourth round, my representative told me it was either going to be the Blue Jays or the Astros," Dombroski said. "They were only a couple picks or so apart so when the Blue Jays didn't take me, I was starting to think, 'Oh, man, what's going on?' It's pretty crazy because there is nothing you can do except wait, but my advisor knew what he was talking about."
Dombroski then saw his name appear on the tracker while his family watched the big screen, not knowing what Trey already know: he was heading to the Astros.
"I didn't say anything," Dombroski said. "I wanted it to be a surprise for them, so I just tried to play it down at first and then like two minutes later, they announced it."
Dombroski estimates that he will head to the Astros complex in West Palm Beach next week and get started on his pro career.
After going undrafted out of Wall in 2019, Dombroski improved his profile in three years at Monmouth University, particularly in the last two. As a sophomore in 2021, Dombroski went 5-2 with a 2.73 ERA with 55 hits, eight walks and 64 strikeouts over 52 2/3 innings while earning All-MAAC honors. This past spring, Dombroski followed up his breakout 2021 by going 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA, 80 hits allowed, 14 walks and school-record 120 strikeouts. That production was enough to earn Dombroski All-American honors, as well as the MAAC Pitcher of the Year Award.
In the summer of 2021, Dombroski shined in the Cape Cod Summer League and won the prestigious league's Most Outstanding Pitcher award for the season.
"I wouldn't write my story any other way," Dombroski said. "I got to play close to home where my family could come see me. I got to play with my brother (Reagan), I got to represent a school from a small conference and now I want to continue to prove that there are really good players playing in small conferences. A lot of guys have come before me and I want to be the next one to show that there is more to college baseball than just the SEC or ACC."
Dombroski was the first of two Monmouth left-handers drafted on Monday, with teammate Rob Hensey selected in the ninth round by the Cincinnati Reds.
Before dominating the MAAC and shining on the Cape, Dombroski put together one of the Shore Conference's all-time pitching careers while at Wall. The 6-foot-5 left-hander was a three-time All-Shore selection by Shore Sports Network and in his final two high-school seasons, he was a slam-dunk selection for Shore Sports Network Pitcher of the Year.
As a junior Dombroski went 8-1 with a 0.54 ERA with only 29 hits and 10 walks allowed in 64 2/3 innings while striking out 71. He followed that up with an even better senior season, during which Dombroski went 11-1 with a 0.37 ERA with 39 hits and a microscopic five walks allowed while striking out 126.
Dombroski's senior year included four wins during Wall's run to the NJSIAA Group III championship and his only loss of the year was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of CBA and current Vanderbilt right-hander Pat Reilly -- a potential first-round pick in next year's draft.
Assuming Dombroski and the Astros come to terms on an agreement (the estimated slot value of the 133rd pick is a signing bonus of $443,700), the Astros are banking on Dombroski to help replenish a minor-league system that has been thinned out by penalties stemming from the sign-stealing scandal that cost Houston first and second-round picks in both 2020 and 2021.
Despite losing the early-round selections in each of the past two seasons, Houston has shown an aptitude for finding all kinds of talent, both in the draft and internationally. Current starting shortstop Jeremy Pena is an American League Rookie of the Year candidate was a third-round selection in 2018 and, like Dombroski, come out of a small, northeastern college (Maine University).
The Astros have also used their farm system to replenish their starting pitching rotation. After losing huge contributors like Gerrit Cole, Zack Greinke and Charlie Morton to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury, Houston has plugged home-grown pitchers Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia and Jose Urquidy in behind future Hall-of-Famer Justin Verlander and formulated one of the game's best pitching staffs.
"What they do is they identify what type of pitcher you are and they help you become the best version of that," Dombroski said. "I am a command and arsenal type of pitcher, so I expect that's what they'll focus on with me. There is definitely going to be some strength and conditioning stuff to maybe add some velocity, but for the most part, I think their plan is to help me with pitch design and sequencing, which I have never really done before. I think one thing they like about me is I haven't been exposed to a lot of the stuff they want to do, so they know there is a lot of room for me to improve once I learn about some of the things they are doing."
Since 2017, the Astros have won four American League West championships, reach the American League Championship Series in five straight season and won two American League pennants. They capped the 2017 season by winning the first World Series title in franchise history, beating the Dodgers in seven games in a series that came under scrutiny within the sign-stealing investigation.
"I put that behind me a while ago," said Dombroski, who grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, of the sign-stealing scandal. "Once I really committed to becoming a professional, all I cared about was whether a team is good or not and whether they can help me reach the Majors and I'm not sure there is a better team for me than the Astros."