The Houston Astros have selected Washington State third baseman Adam Nelubowich in the 18th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. The fourth-year junior made huge strides at the plate this past spring, and that raised his stock enough to catch the eye of professional clubs.
Nelubowich was versatile at WSU, and he needed to be. The Cougars were stacked at third base, leading Nelebowich to some time in the outfield. That speaks to the speed he has as a corner infielder.
A .254 average in Nelubowich's sophomore season was marred by struggles down the stretch as he was a starting regular for the first time. He had a hot start to the season, even notching a 13-game hitting streak in March. But, as the Pac-12 season arrived, he struggled to keep up.
That changed in 2013, where the left-hand batting Nelubowich smacked 13 doubles, three triples, and three homers on the way to a .299 average and .348 on-base percentage. However, he was hampered by 34 strikeouts in 224 plate appearances.
Collegesplits.com's park adjustments weren't kind to Nelubowich, as his slash line drops to .275/.326/.408 when venue is considered. That means he likely still has some work to do at the plate if he wants to move up the professional ranks, even if he is The Natural.
With a nice jump his junior season, it will likely be tempting for Nelubowich to come back and see if he can improve his stock even more. Getting selected in the 18th round will by no means lead to guaranteed future financial stability.
Big jumps in ability from junior to senior year aren't generally expected, but it is possible that Nelubowich is some sort of a late bloomer. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him back in Pullman for a fifth year next spring.