Top 50 Prospects #9-Dan Griffin FREE PREVIEW

For the past two months, has been publishing the reports on the San Francisco Giants Top 50 Prospects. With the Top 10 coming up, now's the time to see what you've been missing. Read about Dan Griffin, the strikeout phenom that led all of college baseball, and then subscribe to so that you can read the reports on all 49 other prospects!

#9 - Dan Griffin
Date of Birth: 09/29/1984 Position: P Height: 6'7" Weight: 225 Bats: R Throws: R
Acquired: Drafted in the 5th Round (#162 Overall) of the 2005 Draft
2005 Stats
AZL Giants - R 0 0 0.75 4 4 0 12.0 9 2 1 0 6 20 .214 0.86
Salem-Keizer - Short A 3 2 2.39 8 8 0 37.2 33 11 10 1 12 49 .241 1.03

You’d think that a player who leads all of NCAA Division I baseball in a stat would be drafted somewhere in the top 3 rounds, especially if the stat that he did the leading in was something as highly regarding as strikeout rate.  But nope, even with  the Giants missing the first 3 rounds of the draft and picking Ben Copeland in the 4th round, San Francisco still landed the top strikeout pitcher in college baseball, Dan Griffin, in the 5th round.

Griffin struck out 13.79 batters for every 9 innings he pitched for Niagara University in 2005, not a bad feat at all.  However, he did have a 4.37 ERA and only a 6-4 record in college, and was coming off a terrible 1-7 2004 campaign with a 9.26 ERA, so that certainly was something teams were keeping in mind.  Plus, he was at Niagara, which doesn’t mix often with some of the more recognizable and established programs in the nation.  So there was a legitimate worry around Griffin.

But the very good news for the Giants is that even while taking a major step up in competition, Griffin kept right on rolling.  In 12 games between the rookie league and Short Season A-ball, he kept striking out batters at a 12.5 K/9IP rate.  What’s even better is that the tall right hander was very effective, going 3-2 in 12 starts and posting an ERA of only 1.99 over the two levels.

That’s a very good sign for the Giants, who may have gotten one of the steals of the draft in Griffin.  Griffin was only 20 during the season (he turned 21 at the end of September), and still has room to grow as he fills out his 6’7, 225 lb frame.  What changed for Griffin in 2005 was that he began using his height to his advantage.  Like Scott Munter, he’s learned how to give his fastball an even more exaggerated sinking motion from his height on the mound.  He also started throwing harder, upping his velocity from the low 80’s to hitting 92-94 consistently during the middle of the season.  And there’s still room for him to get a little stronger.

He matches the fastball with a 12-6 curveball that comes at a hitter hard and drops harder.  Salem-Keizer Volcanoes manager Steve Decker, who saw a few good curves while catching the Giants staff as a player, says that Griffin has some deception in his delivery, and that hitters have a hard time recognizing the curveball from the fastball.  Griffin is also continuing to work on a changeup that could make him even more effective.

However, Griffin is still young, and is still learning how to pitch.  His curveball can be a little inconsistent, and he can get knocked out of his rhythm easy right now.  He also does have a minor problem with walks, though it’s not a major hindrance at this point in his career.  Though the middle levels of the Giants system are uncharacteristically lacking in top pitching prospects, it will probably serve the Giants well to let Griffin take his time.

The good news is that the Giants, again, have found one heck of a pitching prospect.  Griffin’s ceiling is an ace in a rotation with his strikeout ability, good stamina, and power stuff.  But even if he doesn’t reach that ceiling, Griffin also has the makings of a great #2 pitcher (especially if the ace in the rotation is a pitcher like Matt Cain).  Once Griffin picks up a little experience and polish, he could move very quickly through the Giants system like Cain did before him.  But for 2006, he’s likely to head to Augusta in the South Atlantic League to strut his impressive stuff in his first full pro season.

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