By Robert Wilson
LSU has won the second most championships in College World Series history and ranks seventh in CWS appearances but has not won a title since 2009 and has not been to the College World Series since 2017, the longest drought since the Tigers’ first CWS appearance in 1986.
But help is on the way from Mississippi.
Jackson Prep junior pitcher-shortstop Konnor Griffin – rated No. 1 player in the country by Baseball America and MLB ProspectsLive in the Class of 2024 – announced on Twitter Thursday night he has verbally committed to LSU.
Griffin is a popular player. He has 9,500 followers on Twitter, an amazing number for a high school junior. He had more than 1,000 likes and 200 retweets of his announcement in the first 30 minutes. His announcement video on Twitter had more than 25,000 in the first hour.
Griffin had official visits to LSU, defending CWS champion Ole Miss, 2021 CWS champion Mississippi State, Auburn, and Texas A&M.
“LSU has a great track record for developing players and getting them to the big leagues and I love the player development plan that they have outlined for me when I get there,” Griffin told Mississippi Scoreboard. “In the recruiting process, they just made me feel like I was the player that they wanted to build the program around. LSU has a great baseball tradition and I wanted to be a part of that.
“I’ve wanted to handle this recruiting process the right way by taking my time, visiting campuses, and putting a lot of thought and prayer into this decision. I feel completely at peace with the decision, and I am looking forward to now putting all my focus on helping Jackson Prep win another state championship this spring.”
LSU is tied with Texas with six national championships. Only Southern Cal, with 12, has more. LSU is tied with Arizona and Cal-State Fullerton with 18 CWS appearances. Texas is first with 36.
Out of Griffin’s other four choices, none has won more than one national championship. MSU has 12 CWS appearances, tied for 11th.
LSU has the No. 1 rated player for the 2023 MLB Draft in junior centerfielder Dylan Crews, three in the top 15 and six in the Top 100.
LSU was tied for seventh in the country, and fifth in the SEC, with seven players on the 2022 MLB Opening Day rosters.
LSU finished 40-22 last season and lost to Southern Miss in the Hattiesburg Regional championship game.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Griffin was projected by Baseball America this summer as the No. 1 high school player in the country for the 2024 MLB Draft. If Baseball America’s projection comes true, Griffin would be the highest high school player to be selected in the Major Baseball Draft in Mississippi history.
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 an $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, a 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 last year’s Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Team, making it as the first team shortstop.
“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 this summer. “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 junior this school year, was one of 20 players on the 2021 15U USA Baseball National Team two summers ago. He was on the 16U/17U National Development Program this summer.
Griffin has been offered by 15 Division I schools: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Duke, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas, Tulane, and Utah Valley.
Griffin, who is a talented wide receiver in football, an outstanding guard/forward in basketball, and a speedy sprinter in track and field, is only playing baseball and basketball this school year.
Griffin leads the team with 12.4 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game and is tied for the lead with nine blocked shots and has started 10 of the 12 games for the 9-3 Patriots.