It’s no secret around the Illinois Valley that Brady Grabowski is a heck of an athlete, and especially a heck of a baseball player.
Now word has gotten outside of the area, and it’s led the Streator High three-sport senior straight to the Division I level.
Grabowski has committed to continue his education studying business at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, and his baseball career for a D-I Racers program that went 30-25 last season and, beginning in the spring, will be moving from the Ohio Valley Conference to the Missouri Valley Conference.
“I was kind of speechless,” Grabowski said of receiving the offer via text message after a strong showing in front of members of the Murray State coaching staff while playing for his summer team, Longshots Baseball. “It really felt amazing. I’ve been waiting for this my entire life, and it was a lot of pressure lifted off my shoulders.
“I still just want to get better every day [this coming baseball season at Streator]. I’m still hoping I can head to the big stage eventually. This is the first step.”
Players can’t officially sign a national letter of intent until later this school year, for Grabowski most likely during November’s early signing period.
Grabowski – also a standout on the Bulldogs’ boys soccer and bowling teams – has impressed in his Streator High baseball career, last season earning a Times All-Area first-team spot and All-Illinois Central Eight Conference accolades by batting .348 with four home runs and 24 RBIs while patrolling right field.
From there he joined his Longshots teammates for a fourth year. The high-level baseball program based out of Downers Grove specializes in showcasing promising ballplayers against strong competition.
It was on a recent tournament trip to Nashville, Tennessee, that Grabowski caught the eyes of the Murray State coaching staff, who one-by-one agreed the outfielder from Streator has what it takes to play at the D-I level for the Racers.
“When I was talking to the [Murray State assistant] coach, I mentioned Brady,” Longshots Class of 2023 head coach Darin Angus said. " ‘You know, this kid size-wise – 6-[foot]-2, 190 [pounds], runs a 6.5 [60-yard dash] – keep an eye on this kid. He hits the ball well and goes and gets it in the outfield.’
“He played well the game the assistant was there, and the second day he’d told another coach to go out and see him, and [Brady] played well again. Then the head coach came out and saw him play at Vanderbilt, and Brady got a phone message right away from him.
“He did well when he needed to. That says a lot for him. When eyes are on you, sometimes it’s hard to do that.”
Angus said beyond his physical tools, Grabowski has shown the ability and desire to continue to improve his game and take it to the next level.
“He’s made some good strides in the past couple years with his body,” Angus said. “He’s definitely gotten stronger, which he needed to do, the kid can run like the wind, and his swing has gotten better every year. He does a really nice job at the plate, and he plays center field for me 90% of the time and can just track balls.
“He’s an all-around great kid, works hard, does everything you ask him to do.”
Beyond baseball, Grabowski said Murray State looks to be a great fit.
“The campus is really nice,” he said. “I definitely wanted to go somewhere that was visually appealing, and I like it a lot. And the recruiting too [factored into my decision]. They were kind of all-in on me, really interested.
“What they told me is, ‘You’ve really got to earn your spot,’ but I think they see me as becoming a main outfielder for them.”