DUNEDIN, FL — Shawn Griffith wasn’t supposed to be this good.
The native of St. Petersburg, Florida was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 37th round in 2009, despite playing for a high school team that was scarcely scouted and tossing limited innings in his first year of college.
“My high school wasn’t very popular and we didn’t do very well so I wasn’t seen a lot,” said the 25-year old.
“I ended up getting an academic scholarship out of high school and walked onto a local college [St. Petersburg College] and ended up making the team even though I only pitched 10 innings my first year.”
He would pitch another year at St. Petersburg before his talents were recognized by George Mason University.
“Shawn came to us from a junior college and is one of my all-time favourite players quite honestly,” said head coach Bill Brown, on the phone from George Mason in Fairfax, VA.
“He’s a great person, an incredibly hard worker, he came to the ball park each and every day with a ton of energy and it showed.”
He’s brought that energy over with him at the Blue Jays minor league spring training complex as each drill he completed was done with full effort.
“He just took it upon himself to do things the right way,” said Brown. “If every kid in our program was like Shawn then we would have little if any issues.”
Griffith throws four pitches: A fastball, curveball, change-up, and slider. His velocity sits between 88-91 mph, but has touched 93 on the radar gun.
“I like to throw a little earlier than most players in the off season,” he said. “Usually the last couple of months is when I get my best velocity.
Through four seasons in the Blue Jays’ minor league system, the right-hander has complied a 15-10 record, with a 3.96 ERA, while registering an impressive 212 strikeouts through 184 innings of work.
He began the 2012 season with the Lansing Lugnuts before he was promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays.
Asked how he’s been able to rack up so many strikeouts, he smiled.
“I’ve talked to hitters and they’ve said they have trouble picking up the ball out of my hand,” Griffith said, standing outside the main field at the Bobby Mattick Training Center, where he had just finished his morning workout.
“I kind of hide the ball well behind my head, I think that’s where all the strikeouts are from and my out pitches — the curveball (thrown to right-handed batters) and the change-up (thrown to left-handed batters) have helped me get all those strikeouts, which is very helpful.”
At 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, Griffith is slightly undersized as a pitcher, but his attitude and work ethic are immeasurable.
“I always hustled and done everything the right way and each year I got better and better and it led me to this point where I am now.”
He wouldn’t have it any other way.