I got to watch Foster Griffin pitch for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Sunday for the first time since he's been in AA. The Naturals are 1-11 in their last 12 games against the Springfield Cardinals, so for what ever reason they haven't fared well against the Cards' AA team.
Griffin's performance Sunday night reflected the team's struggles against Springfield, as he gave up 4 ER in 4 IP against the Cardinals. He also walked 4 and struck out none. The lefty's ERA is up to 3.62 on the year, and 4.09 over his last 10 starts. Luckily, I don't think this recent stretch is indicative of the type of pitcher that Griffin is. Here's some good news in the form of some personal thoughts I had after Sunday's outing:
- 1. His command didn't look as bad as 4 BB would suggest. He was consistently hammering the outside corner to RHH with a pretty good 2-seam FB and was just not getting the calls. I was sitting right behind home plate, and from my POV he appeared to be getting squeezed a bit. After Zach Lovvorn received similar treatment, pitching coach Steve Luebber came out and voiced his displeasures with the HP Umpire. When Griffin didn't get the call on the corner, he was forced to come back to the plate just a bit which did not work out too well for him. Which….
- 2. Was the concerning part of the night for Griffin. His fastball isn't quite good enough on its own to be on the plate. Griffin's slider is usually his go-to put out pitch, but he maybe threw 3-4 sliders all night. He was bouncing it with regularity in the bullpen before the game, and did not have much confidence in it throughout his start. For a guy who sits in the low-90's, having confidence in your off-speed pitches is a must if you're not gonna get the call on the corner. Griffin's changeup looked fantastic in the bullpen but I didn't see enough of it in the game to make me think he's real confident in it right now either. In a game where his slider was M.I.A., I would've expected a few more changeups. With all that being said……
- 3. I was incredibly impressed with Griffin on Sunday evening. He never once appeared to be displeased with the strike zone no matter how bad it got (there was one at bat in particular in the 3rd inning that seemed particularly awful). You could also tell that Griffin knew what he did and didn't have on Sunday, and managed his emotions like a true professional. He did not appear to be discouraged, frustrated, or down on himself at any point in time during his outing, which is really important for developing starting pitchers. He also……
- 4. Threw a couple of clean innings with nothing but 91 mph fastballs. It is incredibly difficult to pitch at any level with one pitch. Let alone when that one pitch is a very average velocity fastball. Griffin made it through the first two innings scoreless without showing much of his slider at all. Here's a quick peek of Foster from Sunday: https://t.co/wopv1icSD4— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) August 6, 2017 //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Griffin's start Sunday was certainly not the best start he's ever had, but I saw a lot of promise through his struggles. If he would have had his A-slider on Sunday he would've been just fine. Griffin certainly has a few more steps to take before he's ready for the big leagues, but he's not that far off either. At best, I can see Griffin breaking camp with the Royals next year out of spring training. It's not likely, but don't count him out. I would definitely hope to see the 22-year old LHP in KC sometime in 2018. His presence on the mound resembles that of a 10-year veteran, and his stuff will play well in the MLB.