By Robert Wilson
If Baseball America’s prediction is right, Jackson Prep rising junior shortstop-pitcher Konnor Griffin will likely become the highest high school player to be selected in the Major Baseball Draft in Mississippi history.
Baseball America has rated Griffin as the No. 1 high school player in the country in the 2024 MLB Draft.
The top three from Mississippi high schools are Ted Nicholson (third overall pick from Oak Park High in Laurel in 1969), Kirk Presley (eighth from Tupelo High in 1993) and D.J. Davis (17th from Stone County High in Wiggins in 2012).
The last player taken in the first round from a Mississippi high school was pitcher J.T. Ginn from Brandon High, the 30th overall pick in 2018 by Los Angeles Dodgers. Ginn didn’t sign, played two seasons at Mississippi State and was a second-round pick by the New York Mets in 2020. He is now pitching in the minor leagues after being traded to the Oakland A’s.
There have been only five high school players from Mississippi taken in the first round since Presley in 1993. Davis, Ginn, Donnie Bridges (23rd pick from Oak Grove High in 1997), Arturo McDowell (29th pick from Forest Hill High in 1998) and Wendell Fairley (29th pick from George County High in 2007).
The top three picks for Mississippi collegian are Mississippi State’s Will Clark (second overall in 1985), MSU’s B.J. Wallace (third in 1992) and Ole Miss’ Drew Pomeranz (fifth in 2010).
Jackson Holliday, a shortstop from Stillwater, Okla., High and son of former MLB star Matt Holliday, was the first player taken in this year’s MLB draft. Holliday signed with the Baltimore Orioles and received a $8.19 million bonus. A high school player has been the third or higher overall pick in seven of the last nine MLB drafts. A high school was the first overall pick this year and in 2017, 2016 and 2014 in the past 10 years.
Griffin, who played as a freshman this spring, had a .476 batting average, a .617 on base percentage, a .870 slugging percentage, 10 doubles, 4 triples, 5 home runs, 28 runs batted in, 43 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, struck out only 9 times in 84 at bats and made only 2 errors. A right-handed pitcher, Griffin had an 8-2 record, 1.64 earned run average with 59 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 42 2/3 innings. He helped Prep to a 31-7 record, a No. 21 final national ranking by Perfect Game and its fifth straight MAIS state championship.
Griffin was named to the MaxPreps Underclassmen All-American team. He was the only freshman on this year’s Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Team, making it as the first team shortstop. Griffin is rated the No. 2 player in the country in the Class of 2024 by Perfect Game.
“Konnor has had a tremendous summer,” Prep coach Brent Heavener said. “He has worked hard and been able to succeed at a very high level against some great competition. We are extremely excited to watch what the future holds as he continues to work and becomes one of the best players in the country in the Class of 2024. The future is very bright for him and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
“It’s an honor to be included at the top of these rankings, but this just means that I have to work even harder the next two years,” Griffin said. “My goals at this point still remain the same – to help Jackson Prep win another state championship and develop relationships with college coaches so that I can have a great college experience after high school. I can’t worry about the draft at this point in my career. It’s very important that I keep everything in the right perspective.”
Griffin, who reclassified as a rising junior this summer, was one of 20 players on the 2021 15U USA Baseball National Team last summer. He is on the 16U/17U National Development Program this summer and will try to make the 2022 18U USA Baseball National Team this fall.
Griffin has been offered by 13 Division I schools: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Duke, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas and Tulane.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Griffin, who is a talented wide receiver in football, a dominating guard/forward in basketball and a speedy sprinter in track and field, has chosen to concentrate on just baseball this school year at Prep, Heavener said.
Griffin is participating this week in the East Coast Pro in Hoover, Ala. It is for the 2023 MLB hopefuls and Griffin is one of the few 2024 MLB hopefuls who have been invited. Every MLB organization will have their scouting directors and front office people there. There is expected to be 250-300 scouts in attendance.