Mark arrived at Saddleback Junior College as a 19 year old freshman in 1983. During his two seasons at the Mission Viejo, California college, Mark refined his hitting and fielding skills to the point of catching the attention of major league scouts. At the end of his sophomore year, Mark was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 15th round of the January 1984 draft. In what would later be looked back on as a turning point in his life, Mark declined to sign and instead decided to transfer to San Diego State University for his junior year. He is remembered at Saddleback Junior College as the most famous player ever to wear the Gauchos baseball uniform.

At San Diego State, Mark set the All-Western Athletic Conference on fire. He batted .395 and had a .465 on-base percentage. He led the Aztecs team in batting average, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, sacrifice flies, RBIs, and game-winning RBIs. He won team awards for Most Valuable Player, Best Defensive Player, and Hitters Award (best offensive player) and was named honorable mention All-Western Athletic Conference, Southern Division. Despite all his accomplishments, scouts were hesitant to take another chance on a player who had refused to sign the previous year. Mark slipped to the 24th round of the June 1985 amateur draft before being picked by the Chicago Cubs. It would prove one of Chicago's greatest draft selections of all time.

Mark's first year in the minors cemented his reputation as a prospect with a bright future. With the Cubs' Single A team, the Peoria Chiefs, Mark slugged his way to the Midwest League batting title with a .342 average and tied for the league lead in hits (159). He scored 81 runs and had 15 homers in 126 games. Honors began to stack up for Mark. He was named team MVP and was a mid-season and post-season Midwest League All-Star selection.

The next year, Mark was assigned to the Cubs' Double A team, the Pittsfield Cubs. A step up in the level of competition did nothing to slow Mark's accent to the majors. His 1987 season saw him lead the Eastern League in RBI with a club-record 101. His keen batting eye became apparent as he struck out only 24 times in 513 plate appearances. His season batting average ended at .333 and he continued to show good power numbers with a .545 slugging percentage. On the field, Mark committed only 6 errors in the 121 games he played at first base. Mark's trophy case became a bit more crowded as he earned the league's MVP award and was named a league all-star.

Mark was again promoted in 1988 as he was called up to the Cubs' Triple A team in Iowa. His stay in AAA ball was short, however, as the big league team had Mark in its sights. Mark played in only 21 games with the Iowa Cubs before he got the call from Chicago that he was headed to "The Show" on May 2, 1988. And so, with a little more than 2 years in the minors, Mark was headed to the majors at the age of 24.

As an Aztec at San Diego State University, Mark
hit .395





Mark's first professional baseball card came as a member of the 1986
Peoria Chiefs is not affiliated with Mark Grace, his management or Major League Baseball.
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