Photo Courtesy of USA Baseball

By Robert Wilson

       Jackson Prep senior pitcher-shortstop Konnor Griffin has received many honors in his baseball career, but Friday night he received possibly the best one yet.

       Griffin was one of 20 players to be named to the 18-U USA National Team roster to represent the country in the WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) U-18 Baseball World Cup Aug. 31-Sept. 10 in Taiwan. He was selected from a pool of 40 players this week playing in California.

       Griffin made the 15U National Team three years ago, but the World Cup was cancelled down to covid.

       “With the 15u events being cancelled a few years ago, it has always been my dream to make the 18u team and represent my country by wearing USA across my chest on the world stage,” Griffin said. “God has greatly blessed me and helped me overcome some things this summer to get to this point. It is a great honor for me to be selected for this team and I will do everything I can to not only represent my country, but my hometown of Florence, Mississippi as well as Jackson Prep.”

       “We are excited and proud of Konnor,” Prep coach Brent Heavener said. “What he has been able to do on the baseball field is so impressive. This proves why he is one of the best players in the country. We wish him the best of luck next week. Konnor has been such a great representation for our country. We are proud to have him at Jackson Prep.”

       The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Griffin, who has verbally committed to defending national champion LSU, is rated as the No. 2 high school player in the country in the Class of 2024 by Perfect Game. Three publications have Griffin going in the Top 10 of next year’s Major League Baseball draft and one has him going as the No. 1 overall pick. Griffin, who turned 17 years old in late April, is projected as the No. 1 overall pick by Prospect Live, No. 3 by and No. 9 by Baseball America.

       He started at centerfield and was the cleanup hitter in the 2023 High School All-American Game and was one of eight players to participate in the 2023 MLB-USA Baseball High School Home Run Derby as part of the Major League Baseball All-Star week in Seattle and played in the Perfect Game’s Prestigious Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American Classic in Phoenix this summer.

Griffin led Jackson Prep to its sixth consecutive and Mississippi record MAIS Class 6A state championship, a 31-4 record, and a No. 19 national ranking by Perfect Game this past spring. He was named a high school All-American and selected the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Year.

A right-hander whose fastball tops out in the mid-90s, had a 7-1 record and a 1.38 earned run average with 81 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 50 2/3 innings.

Griffin, a right-handed hitter, had a .537 batting average with 43 runs, 30 runs batted in, 6 doubles, 2 triples and 8 home runs. His batting average ranks third in school history behind Gene Wood (.606 in 2014) and Luke Maddox (.579 in 2009). An accurate eye at the plate, Griffin had only nine strikeouts in 82 at-bats and walked 22 times and had .636 on-base percentage. Blessed with the ability to hit with power to all fields, Griffin had a .951 slugging percentage.

A slick-fielding shortstop with great range and lightning quick instincts, Griffin made only six errors and had a .932 fielding percentage and turned nine double plays.

Griffin made the decision to skip his sophomore year and become a junior and join the Class of 2024 last summer. He also decided not to play football or run track and field but did play basketball. Griffin led the team with 12.3 points, 7.4 rebounds per game, 26 blocked shots, and 51.9 percent field goal percentage and led Prep to its second consecutive MAIS Overall Tournament championship this season. He had 15 points and 15 rebounds in the Overall title game over Clinton Christian Academy.

Griffin was named to the third team on the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson boys basketball team this past season. He is the only player to make the Metro Jackson basketball and baseball teams, quite an accomplishment. Griffin, Prep’s Duncan Mathews (football and baseball) and Madison Central’s Isaiah Spencer (football and basketball) were the only athletes to make two All-Metro Jackson teams this past year.

Gifted with skills to also play football and run track, Griffin could possibly be Division I prospect in those sports as well. He was featured on ESPN Sportscenter catching a pass in junior high at Prep and won several track events in junior high at Prep. He didn’t play football or track after his freshman year.