Jonathan Griffin is probably the biggest hitter in all of professional baseball. At 6’7, 250 pounds, the right-handed slugging first baseman cuts an imposing figure every time he strides to the plate. He was drafted in the 21st round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, and the team has high hopes that he will develop into a major league player.
Major league teams had their eye on Griffin prior to 2011. He was initially drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2007 and then the Boston Red Sox in 2008, but chose to pursue his college career instead. A Florida native, he stayed local by attending State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, and later, the University of Central Florida. His collegiate career ended in 2011 by his selection as a member of the Conference USA First Team, after a senior season that saw him hit .343 with 19 home runs and 58 RBI.
Griffin’s senior momentum carried right into pro ball. After he signed with Arizona, he was assigned to the Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer League. He hit .295 for the short season team in 71 games, with 18 home runs and 59 RBI. He led the league in home runs and was third in RBI. He came into the season with the reputation of having some of the best raw power in the minor leagues, and he did nothing to dispel those notions. More information on his statistics is available here.
Griffin will be a player to watch. Anytime a player has a tool as special as Griffin’s ability to hit for power; it bears paying attention. I was glad to be able to find out a little more about the young slugger, and hope you enjoy reading our interview.
Jonathan Griffin Interview:
Who were your favorite team and player growing up and why?: Being from the Tampa Bay area I always grew up watching the Devil Rays. My favorite player growing up would be Frank Thomas (The Big Hurt). I loved watching him drive the ball with his unique swing.
What made you decide not to sign with Minnesota or Boston after they drafted you?: I sat down with my family and we decided that I should go to school and get my education. And If I could go back, I would make the same decision.
How did you find out that Arizona was interested in you?: I actually found out the day of the draft when they called me.
After you signed, did you do anything special to celebrate or treat yourself or family?: I actually signed in my hotel room in Montana by myself. But before I left, we had a great meal together as a family.
What coach or manager has been most influential on you so far?: Throughout my baseball career many coaches and managers have influenced me in becoming the player I am today. But one coach who really stands out for me is Cliff Godwin. He was an assistant coach when I was at UCF. There’s not a game that goes by where I don’t hear him.
What is life typically life traveling between minor league games? What do you all do to stave off boredom?: Life on the road between games is probably the toughest part of being a minor league player. Everyone mostly tries to catch up on sleep during the road trips.
What do you think you would be doing for a career if you were not playing baseball?: This is a question I ask myself all the time and still have not came up with an answer. I would imagine that it would have something to do with baseball.
What is the strangest thing you have seen on the baseball field?: When I was in high school there was a streaker who ran on to the field and tried to jump over the outfield fence, and got stuck on top of the fence.
How do you train or prepare during the off-season?: I prepare myself by taking care of my body and eating right. Developing a routine has helped me be consistent with my workouts. I also rest to let my body recover and charge up for an eight month season.