Shawn Griffith Interview: Call Him Griff… and a Future MLB Closer

Tuesday February 28th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:   We are definitely fortunate to have many of the Blue Jays top prospects appear here on the Reports. Perhaps because we are based out of Toronto. Or maybe the Jays just have some of the friendliest prospects in the game. Whatever the reason- today’s guest is no exception. Shawn Griffith is the latest Jays prospect to sit in the hot seats and talk ball with us. Griff was a 37th round pick of the Jays pack in 2009. Right after signing, Griff jumped right into pro ball and played for two different levels right off the bat. He finished his professional debut with some very obscene numbers. In 2009, Griff pitched in 25 games to the tune of a 0.53 ERA, 9 saves and a whopping 52 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. Try a 0.683 WHIP on for size to boot. Overall, in his 3 seasons, Griff has a formidable 9-6 record, 3.31 ERA, 1.197 WHIP, and 66/147 BB/So in 117 innings pitched. Making it as far as high-A Dunedin in the last 2 seasons, the MLB reports crystal ball is seeing AA in Griff’s future. Get an apartment rented in New Hampshire Griff…as you will soon get to know what exactly a Fisher Cat is!

For a pitcher with a closer mentality and tools, we get to know Shawn Griffith today. From his time in George Mason to his 2012 outlook, this is the complete Shawn Griffith story. One of the most polite young men you will ever meet…and he even brings tea to the bullpen every game. Talk about a sophisticated reliever! On that note, we are proud to present our exclusive interview with one of the top Blue Jays reliever prospects, Shawn Griffith:

Who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?

Growing up my favorite player to watch was Ken Griffey Jr. But I wanted to pitch like Pedro Martinez. We had three days of tryouts in high school and I wore the same Pedro shirt for all three days. My favorite player of all time though would be Nolan Ryan!


Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?

The person I admire the most would be Roy Halladay. He has such a great work ethic, determination and presence on the mound. It makes him very fun to watch. Although my favorite would probably be Tim Lincecum. I’ve always been fan of smaller pitchers because I’m not very big myself. It goes to show people of any shape and size can be dominant!


Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?

Well I’ve been playing this game for 20 years and have had many great experiences. One of my proudest moments was winning our district championship at age 16. I pitched the final game, throwing a complete game shutout with 3 hits and 11k’s. Then throwing a 5-inning no-hitter during summer ball for The RBI program which was the first one in its existence. It was cut short at 5 innings because of the mercy rule, as we won 10-0. I finished with 13 k’s, with all but 2 hitters striking out. Next I would say going to the Regionals in college with George Mason. Even though we lost our first 2 games in the tournament, we had a record-breaking year: going 42-14 with 2x 10 game winning streaks. I was the number one reliever out of the pen and set the school record for appearances with 30. The team was 25-4 when I took the mound. Lastly, my rookie year in professional baseball was the best year of my life in ever category possible. It was the best feeling in the world and I plan on getting back to that feeling!


What are your goals going into the 2012 season?  

Going into the 2012 season, I would like to make a full year roster and pitch the best that I can- while accomplishing personal goals and helping my team get to a championship.


When you first found out you were drafted, what was going through your mind?  What round did you expect to be drafted and what was the process like signing with the Jays?

When I was drafted, my mom and I were in my living room watching the draft on the computer. When the 37th round came around, they said my name and we didn’t believe it. We looked at each other and had to doublecheck on the computer. I then ran into my bedroom and jumped on my brother yelling “I’m going to the Jays!” That was probably the happiest day of my life. I knew I was going to go in the later rounds, or not at all. So hearing my name was magical and I’m very grateful to the Jays taking a chance on me. But I had no idea what to expect.


What do you consider your greatest baseball skill(s)?

Some of my best skills would be my athleticism and composure on the mound. Many coaches put me in tough situations because I’m good at getting out of jams.


What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?

I would like to get my walks down. I walked a lot of batters last year and it starts with controlling the baseball. My mechanics were a little inconsistent last year, which resulted in me not controlling the baseball. So I plan on getting my mechanics solid and having more focus pitch-to-pitch.


How do strikeouts and walks figure into your game?  Do you see any of these items changing over time and to what degree?

Most years my walk have been low which results in good numbers. And strikeouts have been a part of my game my whole life. I’ve always been a big strikeout guy, but not because I’m overpowering. I’m very smart with my pitches. I have good movement and speed change, and I hide the ball well. I hope to see the walks to go down!


Long-term do you see yourself as a reliever/starter/closer? How do you view your role in the organization?

I am not sure what I will be long-term because I feel I can pitch in any role. But in the Jays organization, I think they like me as a reliever/closer. Closing is my favorite role and where I feel most comfortable because I thrive on the adrenaline.


What do you need to do in order to be successful in this game?

To be successful at this game is simple: command the baseball, trust my stuff, and stay consistent.


If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?

I can see myself in the Majors in 2 years. But that is based on performance and I have to perform at a high level. The things I would need the most are hard work day-in and day-out and a little bit of luck (big laugh).


Has pro ball been everything you expected it to be thus far?

Yes it has been an awesome experience and I’m very thankful to be a part of it. Although it has been very hard and extremely demanding, which I never expected.


What do you do for fun when you are not playing baseball?  Best friend(s) on the team that you most hang out with and what do you guys like to do to chill?

I’m a very friendly and approachable person, so I hang out with different guys. But we usually end up spending more time with roommates. We love go see movies, have cookouts and occasionally go out to a club.


Do you have a favorite pre-game meal?

I don’t really have a pre-game meal, usually we eat at places that are near the stadium. But I drink a lot of hot tea and I bring a big cup of it to the bullpen every game. It’s a little strange, but I love it (chuckles).


Final Thoughts?

I appreciate your interest in writing an article on me. I am a pretty low-key guy so I enjoy opportunities like this to get my name out there. I hope everyone gets a chance to see me in the major leagues one day. Thank you!



***Thank you to Shawn Griffith for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports.  You can follow Griff on Twitter (@GriFF720). Good luck on the upcoming season Griff. Keep racking up those K’s as you work your way up to the Show!***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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