By Robert Wilson

Konnor Griffin – the No. 1 rated high school freshman baseball player in the country by Perfect Game – was the starting pitcher Tuesday night for four-time defending MAIS Class 6A state champion Jackson Prep’s 13-3 victory over East Rankin in the season opener at Prep in Flowood.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound right-hander is as good as advertised.

Griffin’s first three pitches – all fastball strikes – were clocked at 92, 93 and 91 miles per hour. He struck out the side in 11 pitches. Griffin’s second pitch of the second inning was clocked at 96 miles per hour – his fastest pitch of the night. He threw 35 pitches – 26 strikes – in three innings. Griffin didn’t allow a baserunner and had six strikeouts out of the nine batters he faced. 

“It’s good to see Konnor come out and set the tone for the season on the mound,” Prep coach Brent Heavener said. “We thought he looked really and dominated with his fastball. He settled in really good after the offense put up seven runs in the first inning, capped off by a three-run homer by (senior shortstop) Owen Abney.

“Konnor is one of the best young talents that I’ve seen. He has gotten a lot of attention over the last year and a half, but he has put in lots of hard work and earns everything that he has gotten so far. We are excited about his future and he could one of the best players to come out of Prep and that says a lot when you think about some of the greats to come through here.”

“Konnor is on the path to potentially be a first round pick (in the Major League Draft) as pitcher or as a hitter,” said Prep assistant coach Jay Powell, who was a major league pitcher for 11 seasons, including the Game 7 winning pitcher for the Florida Marlins in the 1997 World Series. “His command of his velocity with an easy, efficient delivery. He has tremendous spin on his breaking ball.”

“I’ve never seen anything like Konnor, and I’ve been coaching a long time, especially at that age,” said East Rankin coach Steve Renfrow, who has been coaching for 22 seasons with stops at Gulfport High, Jackson Academy, Indianola Academy and Oak Hill Academy. “The only pitcher I can compare him to is JT Ginn of Brandon (who was the National Freshman of the Year at Mississippi State and was a second-round draft pick by the New York Mets in the 2020 Major League Draft). Konnor was really overpowering, and pounds the zone. I am looking forward to watching him as he progresses. I can’t imagine his potential if he can stay healthy.”

Also an outfielder and infielder, Griffin is not only rated as the No. 1 player in the country in his class by Perfect Game, but he was also selected the 5-tool Player of the Year. He was selected to compete in the Perfect Game Select Festival for the past two years. Griffin was one of 20 players named to the USA Baseball under 15 team this past fall. 

Griffin – who also was a star football and basketball player on Prep’s ninth grade teams this school year – already has baseball offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma State and Tulane. 

Griffin is just an additional piece of Prep’s amazing team, which is ranked No. 27 in the nation by Perfect Game. The Patriots are loaded, with three Division I signees – Louisiana Tech signee and catcher Eli Berch, Louisiana-Monroe signee and outfielder Trey Bridges and Mississippi State signee and pitcher Will Gibbs, all three members of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team. In addition, there’s MSU commitment and junior outfielder Rives Reynolds and Northwest Mississippi Community College signee and senior outfielder Cy Craig. Prep has six returning starters from last year’s team, which finished 35-3 and won its last 14 games. 

Prep’s next game is against Starkville Academy Thursday at Prep.