By Robert Wilson
By this time next year, Jackson Prep pitcher-shortstop Konnor Griffin could be the highest high school player to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft in Mississippi history and become a multimillionaire.
Three publications have Griffin going in the Top 10 of next year’s draft and one has him going as the No. 1 overall pick.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Griffin, who has committed to LSU, is rated the No. 2 high school player in the country in the Class of 2024 by Perfect Game.
Griffin, who turned 17 years old in late April, is projected as the No. 1 overall pick by Prospect Live, No. 3 by mlb.com and No. 9 by Baseball America.
The slot value – signing bonus – for this year’s No. 1 pick was $9.72 million, No. 3 was $8.34 million and No. 9 $5.72 million.
There is a long way to go before this time next year, but if Griffin continues to play well and doesn’t get injured, he should go early in the MLB Draft and will have to make a decision whether to go pro or go to college next July.
“Konnor is going to have a lot of fun his senior year,” Prep coach Brent Heavener said. “He’s got everything set up and headed in the right direction. Konnor can go play for the defending national champions at LSU and have a great career or he can get drafted very early in the 2024 draft. All while chasing the opportunity to win his seventh straight state championship at Jackson Prep. Konnor knows the expectations are high for him this year. He’s going to continue to work hard, but he’s going to try to sit back and enjoy the process and have some fun with his teammates in his last year at Prep.
“We know all eyes will be on Konnor every time we step out on the field, and how he’s going to play. But he’s one of the most mature, outstanding ball players at that age we’ve ever been around. It’s going to be fun to watch.
“It’s hard not to pull for Konnor. Not only is he a great baseball player, but he is an outstanding person. There’s a lot of little eyes coming to watch him because of the person he is.”
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 was traded to the Oakland A’s and is now pitching in the minor leagues.
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).
Griffin was chosen as one of 40 players in the country to compete for a spot on the 2023 18U USA National Team. He will try to make the 20-player final roster Aug. 21-25 in California.
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 earlier this month.
Griffin played in the Perfect Game National Showcase this past week and will find out this week if he will be participating in the Perfect Game’s Prestigious Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American Classic Aug. 20 in Phoenix.
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. 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 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 season.
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.