A solid bullpen is key to the success of any baseball team and, for the second straight season, the Lansing Lugnuts’ got a great bullpen arm in right-handed-pitcher Shawn Griffith. Throughout his seasons with Lansing, Griffith had found success on the mound, but despite this, the nickname he was given by the voice of the Lugnuts’ Jesse Goldberg-Strassler had nothing to do with his skills. “They call me, [the] Milkman because I prefer milk to water as it quenches my thirst better and it’s healthy,” he said, laughing. “Whole milk is the best!”
Griffith has become synonymous with more than just the liquid he drinks, displaying solid mechanics since being selected in the 37th round of the 2009 MLB draft. “I was surprised when I was drafted by Toronto as a few teams looked at me and another team showed more interest,” the 25-year-old pitcher from St. Petersburg, Florida said. “I was very excited though, because their facility is only 20 minutes from my house so it was very convenient. I’ve since enjoyed the many opportunities the Blue Jays have presented me.”
Griffith joined the Blue Jays after spending two years at George Mason University, where he played in 50 games out of the bullpen, recording a 6-1 record with a 4.39 ERA with three saves. In over 80 innings pitched, the young righty allowed only 39 earned runs while striking out 74. He set a new school record in 2009 for appearances in a season with 29 and in 2008, he led his team in opponent’s batting average, with a .215 mark.
“Attending George Mason is one of the funnest times of your life. You get to play baseball, go to school, and earn your degree which was a big part of what my family and what I wanted to do. I earned my degree and got to play in a regional in 2009 it was a lot of fun and a great learning experience,” he said.
Signing in 2009 Griffith joined the GCL Blue Jays and Auburn Doubledays’ to finish the year, playing in 25 games and recording a 2-2 record with a 0.53 ERA with nine saves. In 33 2/3 innings of work, he struck out 52 while only walking 10. When asked what he felt was his best skill that helped him find tremendous success during his first year in professional baseball, the Florida native discussed his confidence, competitiveness and conviction: “I honestly feel that I am very strong mentally and can pitch in any situation without any damage.”
In 2010, Griffith split his time with the Auburn Doubledays’ and the Dunedin Blue Jays appearing in 24 games between the two teams going 2-4 with a 4.65 ERA while striking out 51 and walking 24 to go with a save in 40 2/3 innings of work. The young prospect stated that some of this success can be accredited to his pitch repertoire, which he has continued to work on since this point of his career. “I presently use four pitches, a fastball, a curveball, a change-up, and a cutter. My fastball ranges from 88 to 92 mph.”
In 2011, Griffith again earned a promotion and again split his time between two teams, playing for the Lansing Lugnuts’ and Dunedin Blue Jays going 5-0 with a 4.22 ERA while collecting 44 strikeouts and walking 32 batters in 27 games “Dunedin is a real nice place to play,” Griffith said of his time in high-A ball. “It’s even better for me because I can live at home. I get a lot of family support when I play in Dunedin. My family and my girlfriend’s family all come to support me. One time I had to buy 18 tickets for family to come to the game. It really makes playing baseball even better.”
Like 2011, Griffith returned to both the Lansing Lugnuts’ and Dunedin Blue Jays in 2012 going 6-4 with a 5.10 ERA while striking out 67 and walking 39 in 67 innings in 38 games. “I love Lansing it is a great area that has a great stadium and amazing fans,” he said. “You always get great turnouts and it’s a great atmosphere here.”
“This past season, my time in Dunedin was a bit of a struggle as I was up-and-down but I spent my time in Lansing working everything out. I will continue working hard in 2013.”
His hard work however, should not come to a surprise as Griffith has admitted that he believes one of his best skills off the field is his dedication and perseverance. “I work hard year-round to be in top shape and compete every year because I want to play this game for a long time.
Expect Shawn Griffith to be playing baseball for a long time, and continue finding success with the Blue Jays’ organization.