Remember the first few days after high school graduation?
For most, it’s an exciting and mostly low-key time. But left-hander Foster Griffin, the 28th overall pick in baseball’s first year player draft last week, has been on the go. He arrived in Surprise, Ariz., with some of the other Royals draft picks on Tuesday night.
They went to the team’s facility, even before Griffin checked into the hotel. He was expected to throw his first bullpen session Wednesday, and the sharpie was ready.
“I write (bible) verses in my hat, and play to give glory to God. I don’t play for anybody else,” Griffin said in a phone interview. “It’s the reason I play.”
But before any non-believer rolls his or her eyes, know that Griffin’s coach at The First Academy in Orlando, Fla., said that’s a good thing.
“He’s a devoted Christian, he has high morals,” said First Academy coach Scott Grove. “With him on our team, you wouldn’t have known if he had a chance to get drafted in the first round or if his baseball career was going to end after his senior year. He’s very low-key, but he’s a competitor. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but he’s very, very competitive.”
Griffin, who is 6 feet, 5 inches and 195 pounds, was 7-2 in 13 games with The First Academy this season. He had a 1.55 ERA and struck out 99 and walked 19 in 58 2/3 innings.
“He has a really, really advanced feel for pitching, really advanced feel for his body,” said Royals scouting director Lonnie Goldberg. “Very athletic. He’s got three pitches that he commands now. I see him as an advanced high school arm. We were really excited he was there. We know the family, know the kid, outstanding make-up, great family. Fits what we do and who we are.
“On any given night, his change-up would be his best pitch or his curveball would be his best pitch. When you talk to this young man, he known pitching, he talks pitching, which is unique from a high school player.”
Griffin said the major-leaguers he admires most are Mike Minor of the Braves and the Rays’ David Price.
“I throw in the low 90s, I don’t overpower guys, so I depend on location,” Griffin said. “I’m a fastball, change-up, curveball guy. My curveball is probably my best secondary pitch, and I just try to locate all three of them. I mix my pitches quite bit.”
Griffin is just 18 and Grove said his “projectability is awesome.”
“He’s well-developed for his age as far as being an overall pitcher and does a great job with runners on,” Grove said. “He’s a great pick for the Royals. The organization is going to be extremely happy to have him. They’ll see him work and he always wants to get better.”
He’s getting that chance now in Arizona. By this weekend, he’ll be in Burlington, N.C., where he will be playing with the Rookie team.
So, it’ll be Florida to Arizona to North Carolina in a week’s time. He admits its been a lot to take, considering he just finished high school. But he’s undaunted.
“I’m excited,” Griffin said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
To reach Pete Grathoff, call 816-234-4330 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff