From BR Bullpen
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 187 lb.
Robert Gruber has represented Germany on the international baseball stage several times.
In the 1998 European Junior Championship, Gruber struck out in his only at-bat and allowed 2 runs in 2 1/3 IP. The next year, he was 1 for 2 with a walk and went 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
In the 2002 Bundesliga, Gruber hit .452/.527/.613 for Heidenheim Heideköpfe and was 0-2 with two saves and a 6.32 ERA. He was second in the southern Bundesliga-1 in average, second in hits (42), tied for 7th in RBI (24), 6th in slugging and 5th in OBP.
During 2003, Robert starred for the Cologne Cardinals, for whom he posted a .403/.538/.522 batting line and fielded .929 as their main third baseman. He was 0-1 with a save and a 4.50 ERA on the hill. He was among the northern Bundesliga-1 leaders in average (4th), RBI (18, 6th), hits (27, tied for 5th), runs (25, 4th), slugging (9th), OBP (2nd to Octavio Medina), steals (14, 3rd) and steal percentage (.933, 1st).
Gruber fell to .341/.440/.400 for Cologne in '04. He was the club's catcher for the last couple months after spending most of the campaign at third base. He tied for 7th in the loop with 29 runs. He made his debut for the German national team in the 2004 European Championship B-Pool, hitting .143/.455/.571 in a part-time role.
In the 2005 Bundesliga, Robert returned to Heidenheim. He hit .281/.366/.385 as his slide continued but did steal 12 bases in 14 tries, finishing third in the circuit in swipes. He was 0-2 with two saves and a 4.50 ERA. He played every position that year except second base and catcher. In the 2005 European Championship, Gruber hit .200/.400/.200 as Germany finished 4th, their best finish since the 1970s (when only West Germany competed).
Gruber batted .347/.439/.490 for the 2006 Heideköpfe and was thrown out stealing in 5 of 13 tries, leading the southern Bundesliga-1 in times caught stealing. He allowed four runs in four innings and was 0-1 on the mound. In the field (mostly a 1B-OF), he handled 162 chances without an error.
Robert produced at a .373/.425/.455 rate in 2007 and was 0-1 with a 10.50 ERA. The 25-year-old was 10th in the southern Bundesliga-1 in average, 4th in RBI (26, trailing two Americans and Simon Gühring), tied for 3rd in hits (41) and was 5th in RBI (26), but led in times caught stealing (4 for 10 in steal attempts).
In the 2007 European Championship, Gruber hit .321/.394/.571 and tied Jendrick Speer, Dominik Wulf and Sascha Lutz for the team lead with 7 runs, playing mostly outfield. In the 2007 Baseball World Cup, Gruber was 1 for 8 with a steal and a run, backing up Klaus Hopfensperger in right field. Robert did manage to have two outfield assists in three games in right, showing off a fine arm.
Gruber went 0 for 7 with a walk in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, backing up US minor leaguer Donald Lutz in right and former minor leaguer Gühring in left. Germany failed in its bid for a spot in the 2008 Olympics.
In the 2008 Bundesliga season, Gruber's batting line was .342/.414/.432 and he allowed five runs in six innings. He played almost entirely right field for Heidenheim. He was third in the southern Bundesliga-1 with 28 RBI (behind teammates Gühring and Keith Maxwell, both former minor leaguers) and 9th in hits (38). His five outfield assists tied for the league lead.