SPRINGDALE (KFSM) - In 2014, the Royals selected Foster Griffin with the 28th overall pick, plucking the lefty straight out of high school in Florida and making him a millionaire overnight.
"I think I used to put too much pressure on my self, with that aspect of it, being a first round pick," says the now 21-year old.
With that pressure came struggles. While Griffin was promoted multiple times in his first two seasons, he never managed a winning record, and his ERA grew with each promotion. Rather than start this year in AA, he was once again assigned to High A Wilmington. He got off to the best start of his career, and has carried that momentum with him since his promotion to Northwest Arkansas.
"The previous years I’d been promoted, I struggled, so the motivation kind of came that I got promoted this time, I just want to continue rolling and have some success, and I've been able to do that," Griffin said.
Now, three years is a relatively long time for a first round pick to take to make it to AA ball. But regardless of how long it took, Griffin is now making the most of the opportunity. Since getting called up to the Naturals, he has made seven starts. He’s won six of them, posting a career best 2.08 ERA and striking out 41 batters along the way. He earned Pitcher of the Week honors from the Texas League for the last week of June. He credits his success to maturity and comfort that grows over time.
"A lot mentally has been better, as far as last year, and I made a few mechanical changes," Griffin said. "Now you just try to go out and pitch to the best of your abilities and let your natural talent and your mechanics and all that good stuff take over and let your defense work behind you."
Griffin was called up in the middle of the Naturals hunt for the first half title, and he thinks the higher stakes helped to motivate him. For the first time in his pro career, the games mean something.
"Ever since I got into pro ball I’ve been on the development side of things, teams haven’t been winning that much," Griffin said. "Came up here we’re in a playoff push so you know you want to get the win for your team and be able to go out and do that, so that may have a little bit of contribution towards it."
Griffin will be the lone Royals representative at the MLB Futures game this Sunday in Miami, as part of the MLB All-Star game festivities.