By Robert Wilson

       Jackson Prep’s Konnor Griffin became the first Mississippian to be named the National Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year and the second Mississippian to receive a National Gatorade Player of the Year in any sport Thursday morning with a surprise presentation by his family, coaches, and teammates on Prep’s baseball field in Flowood.

photo courtesy of the Griffin Family

       Griffin had been named the Mississippi Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year earlier this week.

       Gatorade has been recognizing a state and national winner every year since 1985. Ridgeland High alumnus and former Olympic track and field gold medalist Bianca Knight won the national award in 2006.

       “I wasn’t really expecting this this morning,” said Griffin, who was presented the trophy by his father, Kevin. “I was just expecting to work a baseball camp. I saw a bunch of cameras around, but I didn’t think anything of it. Seeing my dad bring it out to me was special because we have a close relationship. That’s who I train with. That’s who has helped me to get to where I am. I’m super thankful to have him out there, along with my mom (Kim) and my brothers (Kannon and Kaden) and all of my family.”

Griffin joins an impressive group of former Gatorade National Baseball Players of the Year who have combined for more than four MLB MVP awards, 42 All-Star appearances and 27 MLB first round draft picks. He was selected from more than half a million other student-athletes who play high school baseball across the country.  

photo courtesy of the Griffin Family

After Griffin received the trophy, he received a surprise video call from 2000-01 Gatorade Minnesota Baseball Player of the Year and former major leaguer Joe Mauer congratulating him on the honor. 

“The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes top high school athletes like Konnor who have distinguished themselves from strong competition,” Gatorade president and general manager Michael Del Pozzo said. “Almost half a million student-athletes play high school baseball nationwide, and Konnor stood out for his impact on and off the field of play.” 

“Konnor Griffin is a worthy selection for Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year,” Jim Callis of said. “He fits nicely into the past lineup of winners, and he turned in a spectacular season as a two-way player at Jackson Prep, leading the program to its seventh consecutive 6A state championship. I think he has the best all-around tools in this year’s draft and likely will be the first high school player selected.”

“I cannot say enough about what Konnor has meant to this program and me,” said Prep coach Brent Heavener, who has coached Griffin since he started going to Prep in the eighth grade. “He’s going to go down as one of the best players that has worn a Prep uniform and he’s done it the right way since Day One. We are so proud of him and can’t wait to watch what the future holds.”

“I’m just so happy for Konnor and his family,” Prep athletic director Will Crosby said. “It’s hard to put into words how much that young man has meant to Jackson Prep. A generational talent who is full of humility and is constantly thinking of others. Anyone can watch him play and understand how gifted he is physically. What truly makes him special is his leadership skills and the ability to make those around him feel special. Jackson Prep is a better school because of Konnor’s years here. Are we going to miss him? As he was walking off the field after that last game, I told his mom, ‘I miss him already.’ “

Konnor Griffin photo by: Bob Smith

“Konnor is a great baseball player, no doubt about that,” Prep junior infielder-pitcher Tre Bryant said. “He is a pure five tool player and can do it all. What impresses me the most about him though is not his skill, it’s his ability to stay humble throughout the ups and downs as well as bringing his teammates up with him. His work ethic is something else, even whenever I played with him when we were just 13 years old, I knew that he was different. The way Konnor carries himself on and off the field is just different and you can tell as a teammate. It makes you want to work harder and push yourself when you have a person like him in your dugout.”

       The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Griffin led Prep to a seventh straight MAIS Class 6A state championship, a school record 39 victories (only four losses) and a No. 3 national ranking this season. 

The senior pitcher-shortstop and LSU signee had one of the best seasons in Mississippi high school history, hitting .559 (third highest in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps) with a school record 76 runs (most in the country, second most in Mississippi history), a school record 83 stolen bases (third most in the country and fifth most in Mississippi history), 39 runs batted in, 13 doubles, 4 triples and 9 home runs this season. His batting average ranked 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 10 strikeouts in 117 plate appearances and walked 47 times and had an .690 on base percentage (third highest in Mississippi). He was caught stealing only one time, when he tried to steal home against Presbyterian Christian School during the regular season. Blessed with the ability to hit with power to all fields, Griffin had a .966 slugging percentage (second highest in Mississippi).

Griffin, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 98 miles per hour, also had a 10-0 record (tied for third in Mississippi in wins) and a 0.72 earned run average (sixth lowest in Mississippi) and 107 strikeouts (sixth best in Mississippi) and only 26 walks in 67 2/3 innings.

A slick-fielding shortstop with great range and lightning quick instincts, Griffin made only five errors and had a .956 fielding percentage and turned 12 double plays. By comparison, only 10 major league shortstops have a better fielding percentage as of this week.

Konnor Griffin photo by: Bob Smith

Griffin is projected by as the No. 10 selection, and the second high school player chosen, in the latest mock draft for the Major League Draft July 14. Only two other high school players in Mississippi history went higher. Ted Nicholson from Oak Park High in Laurel was the No. 3 pick in 1969 and Kirk Presley of Tupelo High was the No. 8 pick in 1993.

      Griffin was a member of the 18-U USA National Team last fall and competed in the WBSC (World Baseball Softball Confederation) U-18 Baseball World Cup Aug. 31-Sept. 10 in Taipei City, Taiwan.

       He participated in the 2023 High School All-American Game and was one of eight players to participate in the 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 Dick’s Sporting Goods All-American Classic in Phoenix last summer.

       Griffin wore the No. 22 Prep jersey this season, awarded to him to wear in memory of Walker Wilbanks, a baseball and football player at Prep who passed away in 2014. A Prep baseball player is awarded the honor of wearing Wilbanks’ number 22 jersey each year.